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Do Make Say Think - You, You're a History in Rust

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Artist: Do Make Say Think

Album: You, You're a History in Rust

Label: Constellation

Review date: Mar. 30, 2007

More than 10 years and five albums into their career, Do Make Say Think remain one of the most consistently interesting rock bands working today. Like many instrumental rock bands, their music derives from influences scattered across a number of different genres – jazz, punk, psychedelic and electronic music – but they’ve processed their influences in such a way that their songs sound more like a natural assembly of different instrumental and compositional styles than a conscious nod to any one genre or predecessor. Their last album, Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn was a great, sprawling record, notable for its long and complex song structures and textured production (although it also had a great pop moment in the surf music-inspired finale, “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray”). Their new album, You, You’re a History in Rust, is a much more straightforward effort than Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn: The songs are generally shorter, with identifiable hooks (two songs even have vocals). But the album is also marked by the inventiveness the band has displayed throughout its career, and the result is a lot of fun to listen to, and perhaps the most successful Do Make Say Think album yet.

It is also the closest Do Make Say Think have ever sounded to a rock or punk band. “The Universe!” builds around a distorted lead guitar part and features a regular power-chord break that would sound great echoing around Soldier Field or the Meadowlands, although the song quickly gets more involved, and the playing is much more technically proficient than one would expect from any arena rock band. “A With Living” has a slow-building first part – little more than drums, a quiet guitar, and low vocals (from fellow Toronto musician Alex Lukashevsky) – that suddenly bursts into a swelling, graceful chorus. “Executioner’s Blues” may be the best song on the album; producers (and band members) Odet Benchetrit and Charles Spearin counterpoint strings and horns with heavily distorted guitars, while the drumming gives the song an instant, insistent rhythm. It’s as musically complex as anything put out by their Constellation Records labelmates, but not beholden to the post-rock format (particularly the quiet-loud-quiet dynamic).

Benchetrit and Spearin’s production work gives You, You’re a History in Rust a pleasantly unpredictable nature: The band may start with a droning, feedback-laden first movement and then suddenly break into a gentle, finger-picked guitar figure. The closing “In Mind” reverses that order, swamping an acoustic guitar and banjo movement with waves of feedback, and the band members harmonizing on the final lyric of the album: “Whey you die, you’ll have to leave them behind / you should keep that in mind / when you keep that in mind / you’ll find a love as big as the sky.” Instrumental rock bands are not usually in the business of offering poignant reminders, but Do Make Say Think are clearly not burdened by anyone’s expectations of an instrumental rock band.

By Tom Zimpleman

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Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn

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