Now, it's difficult to concentrate on the first track of any record when the packaging smells so damn good as the crispy sugar-papery inlay of 65daysofstatic's new record. God, it's like being in year 3 and sticking a really good drawing of a Roman Centurion on the wall… Right, well, once we've rewound and put the inlay DOWN we can see what these Sheffield industrial post-rock techno disaster-masters have given us for their third full-length release. And the first track, 'When We Were Younger & Better', oh… it sounds like the last record. Well, "nothing wrong with that!"_ you'd presumably yell. And no, there's not a great deal wrong with it, and I'm not even going to hilariously 'riff' on the title's aptness, but it's all a little bit too safe to make it worth considering.
One expects, particularly with a post-rock ensemble so tipped and honed as this one, a third record to be about flexing your muscles now you're established. So yeah, ignore the complex time signatures and bombastic 5th interval guitar lines of that first track and run along straight to about 3:10 in the second track, 'A Failsafe'. Shit, that's some exhilarating drumming, as desert-dry as a thwack can come when it's nearly inaudibly accompanied by weird burblesome electronic whizzes. Then, triumph on triumph, we're back in with that familiar fists-aloft punch-along riot-cum-chorus that we know 65days do like no other. Tremendous.
It doesn't last, though. Soon, we reach again for the sweet-smelling inlay littered with artwork that GY!BE would probably say is "a bit too… us". We struggle to find the outstanding moments that flowed so freely and continuously on their previous two records, and when they do come they're a little lost in a mire of Tupperware-sealed production. The Destruction of Small Ideas should probably be played unreasonably loudly at all times so it can have its full effect, but that's just not all that reasonable. We want it to be better, but the sad fact is that 65days have been done in by the very high standards they set themselves. The instant they start to coast you know the fire that fuelled previous work is in danger of being extinguished.
But remember who you're dealing with. 65daysofstatic are still one of the most technically gifted and sonically finest bands on the planet. So when they coast you're still guaranteed at least some return on your investment. One moment we're in rather aimless drudgery in the opening to 'Wax Futures', the next we're enjoying the daft Casio beats, welcome extra instrumentation and warring tonalities of 'These Things You Can't Unlearn'. It's a constantly perplexing record, and too much to endure in one sitting.
The crucial thing with previous 65days records was the fog, the dense mist you could get lost in happily for an hour. The difference with The Destruction… is that you don't want to get lost here because you'll probably never find your way back, no matter how well you laid your Breadcrumb Trail. And at over an hour in length, it's a very long way to go. To evoke that insane confusion might well have been the plan. If so, 65days are scary now. If not, then they're still scary. We just don't know why yet. But while you're wondering, maybe give that inlay a little sniff… mmm…
6Daniel Ross's Score