It’s been a couple of years, but you don’t forget an impactful name – and Under This Cracked Shell outright refuse to disappoint.
The brand new album, an aptly titled, rather topically poignant Communicate, is a softly immersive, sentimental and calming collection. It leads in with simple paired guitars, electric and acoustic in unison, and a few subtle synth layers for additional ambient warmth. This is New Breath, and it’s blissfully minimalist, and all that it needs to be.
Then we get a change in mood, a little cinematic reflection – looking up at the night sky, the vastness – Suspending Stars. It’s perhaps not that relevant, but the game This War Of Mine has a very similar guitar riff, conjuring up images of calm amidst chaos, uncertainty united with acceptance. Sure enough, things don’t remain as you expect – the full force of Under This Cracked Shell kicks in with addictive weight and power. Fast strums and drums, distortion, a new take on the same riff – chaos attempts to consume, but rhythm and order keep things moving in a stylish, hypnotic and energizing way. Superb – we’re into things full throttle now.
Island – softness and drama intertwine, a raw, live rock sound is reminiscent of the scene we all love and miss. Real drums, crisp and clear, gentle guitar riffs looping around you.
Then we get Distractions, and the set-up is rightfully different – quick finger picking, muted strings, far less reverb – much more space. Those drums crash in beautifully again, and the band proceed to utilize contrast by juxtaposing all of this with the heavy downpour of distortion and soulful unity later on. The passion rises, taking yours with it in the process.
Reaching Out welcomes in a new mood, a meandering touch of the toms, and an all the more hard-rock-soaked drop-in and change of pace that really makes the whole thing stand tall in and of itself. Then we get a brief return to the calm of the opener, the simplicity of a sub-two-minute loop that lulls you into a near-meditative state for Old Habits.
A Decade In The Arctic follows, an intriguing title and an indie-rock intro that furthers the unusual nature and excitement implied there. The riff rises and falls, the drums crash through with brilliantly crisp, up-front vibrancy. Then comes the switch, the pedal-board at work, the observation becomes a quick walk becomes a fast run; away from it all? This is potentially a personal favorite, there’s an addictive, satisfying quality to the progression and the way it so intensely lifts the energy of the room.
In stark contrast for one final hit of connection, Partial Memory brings things to a lightly striking finish. Reflect on the journey, perhaps focus only on certain aspects, and feel the calm. There’s a longer-form melody that begins at just prior to the two-minute mark, effectively separating this track from others of a similar pace, and it captures the imagination beautifully.
Stunning, a truly majestic, impressive yet also ambiently on-point new playlist of original compositions. Noise cancelers or loud, clear speakers recommended for the best possible experience.