6.8

…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: The Century of Self

Music Reviews sElf
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&#133;And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead: <em>The Century of Self</em>

Chocolate GeniusThe latest twist in the trail is more cleanly blazed
The obvious story of Trail of Dead’s latest is their departure from the major label world after a string of (at least commercial) diminishing returns across its last two albums. For those that dug in and listened carefully to Worlds Apart and So Divided, though, it was clear that the band had refused to let the resounding acclaim that greeted 2002’s Source Tags & Codes ring in their ears too long, slowly sublimating their seething energy into a more complex sprawl. Effectively stripped of some of their more overt debts to Sonic Youth and vaguely gesturing at a prog tradition few would have initially placed them in, the band has come out the other side of the Interscope years perhaps a bit looser in their ambition but with a bit more focus. Although this year’s model offers its share of measured drama, even the unfolding epics like “Halcyon Days” feel more organic, particularly juxtaposed against taut, effective rockers like “Ascending.” Conrad Keely’s vocals remain scabby and untreated and there’s still a bit much sonic compression, but the relative rawness adds a subtle flair to this record. While the circle is not yet complete, you can’t help but feel the temperature rise.