August 16, 2016


Explosions in the Sky have gone from taking care to not caring.

Instrumental rock’s biggest name became this year’s most recent revenant, wandering back after a hiatus in the Hollywood hinterlands. They bring a lot of glitz and glamour – but not much else – to bear on their first release since 2011, which is as unrecognizable as a mauled trapper; moreover, the injuries were self-inflicted.

Admittedly dissatisfied with being labeled a “montage” band (and what better way to challenge that perception than spending three years scoring films), EITS responded by turning neurotically nomadic. Other contemporaries have ventured out on similar-sounding, atypical treks (e.g., Saxon Shore‘s Luck Will Not Save Us From a Jackpot of NothingUnwed Sailor‘s Little Wars), so EITS aren’t treading new ground. But those exploratory exploits didn’t exclusively exclude previous paths. The Wilderness encompasses the ecology of an EITS record – except that it doesn’t know where it’s going and takes too long to get there.


EITS hike through a hubristic headwind of ambient electronics, stopping some songs dead in their tracks and preventing the music’s natural bluster from blowing them forward. “Wilderness,” “Colors in Space,” “Landing Cliffs,” “The Ecstatics,” and “Logic of a Dream” get hopelessly lost, beleaguered by banal beats and deprived of edible intensity until twilight, when only small scraps of uncured melodic meat are left to ration. Even on climbs where EITS encounter obvious orientation (“Tangle Formations,” “Disintegration Anxiety,” “Infinite Orbit”), they walk in circles. There’s an abundance of sustainable soil at every encampment that’s never saturated. The earth dries up so quickly, it becomes a cold, dead place.


EITS are a feral force of indie nature, one The Wilderness hinders instead of harnessing. The album is vast in ethereal expanse yet equally empty as an evocative ecosystem that can’t see the forest for the trees.