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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Stars of the Lid
And Their Refinement of the Decline
Kranky

Rating: 8.2/10 ?


April 4, 2007
A six-year hiatus from any other band than Stars of the Lid would surely give way to the assumption that they had called it a day. But as anyone familiar with any of the band's previous outings would instantly notice, Stars of the Lid don't like to rush things. While the rest of the musical world has been obsessing with prolificacy and how the world might perceive that "difficult second album," Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie have been quietly plugging away in their respective corners of the globe (Los Angeles and Brussels, respectively), eventually emerging with And Their Refinement of the Decline, the latest episode of the duo's increasingly epic catalogue.

Despite the six-year interlude between the two albums, And Their Refinement of the Decline picks up effortlessly where The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid left off, back in 2001. McBride and Wiltzie's barely-conscious drones are as panoramic and carefully crafted as ever, woven together with faint hums and intermittent lulls of silence. Each track is built around a cycle of hushed swells, gently folding into one another, and held together until they take upon a life of their own, engulfing the listener in symphonic haze.

Like The Tired Sounds of, The Refinement is very drawn out, clocking in at over two hours and nearly filling two discs. Overall, the spread of the sound is less dense, although most tracks are shorter, and there are no three-part marathons like the previous album's "Austin Texas Mental Hospital." As far as the sounds go, the pair exhibit their growing interest in classical music, which lies in contrast to their earlier, predominantly guitar-based works. In fact, at times The Refinement sounds like the nocturnal fumblings of an orchestra, complete with strings, trumpets, clarinets and pianos, as well as the trademark glistening guitar loops which the pair like to smear across their music.

Spread over two tracks, "Articulated Silences," seeps into form with a three-chord sequence of crystalline murmurs of reverberated guitar before fading out; the sequence is again adopted, with a murkier tone, before cellos enter the scene and the piece is gradually put to bed. The denser "Another Ballad for Heavy Lids" sees the duo explore minor keys in more depth, before "The Daughters of Quiet Minds" pulls the conscience under into a sub-aquatic blur, only to have "That Finger on Your Temple is the Barrel of My Raygun" return it to the surface.

Given its length and nature, Stars of the Lid require either patience or the decorum to let them work their magic in their own, measured way. For those who were in awe of The Tired Sounds of and have been struggling to find an adequate sonic accomplice for the drowsier moments of life, And the Refinement of the Decline won't have come a moment too soon. This double-album is just as hypnotic, just as overwhelming, and awesome enough to win over a new battalion sleepyheads for the next six years and beyond.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright

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