Do Make Say Think: You, You're A History In Rust

Every couple of years, Toronto quintet Do Make Say Think issues a great album, plays a smattering of local dates, and then just as promptly disappears until the next go-round, a cycle that keeps the group's profile low. Which is a bit of a shame considering how deserving of broader recognition its music is, and its fifth album, You, You're A History In Rust, is no exception on that count. In fact, it's been more than a few years since its last release, 2003's Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn, but the band's sound—multi-layers of horns, electric guitars, and drums constellating around an acoustic guitar nucleus—has undergone little change in the interim aside from the appearance of vocals and a slightly greater flirtation with country-folk. Once again, the collection features pensive moments (“A With Living”) offset by equally stunning moments of euphoric abandon (“The Universe!”), and the recording approach remains the same too as, like its predecessors, parts of the fifty-minute album were laid down at a family cottage and barn in rural Ontario.

Alternating between anthemic splendor and becalmed languor, the episodic opener “Bound To Be That Way” opens with proverbial calm before the guitars kick in and the syncopated drum attack detonates with fiery precision. Following that, “A With Living” begins like a countryside romp and then enters uncharted vocal territory with the group indulging in a robust round of singing before the tune's finest moment arrives, a gorgeous denouement of lullaby guitars, wordless harmonies, and muted horns. By contrast, “The Universe!” lunges forth in a furious gallop, growing ever more ecstatic when volcanic guitars and blazing horns appear, while equally muscular guitar playing drives the stampeding crunch of “Executioner Blues.” The protracted gaps between releases doesn't engender radical production changes—no one should expect to see guitarists Ohad Benchetrit and Justin Small, bassist Charles Spearin, and drummers Dave Mitchell and James Payment wielding laptops onstage anytime soon—but the group's music teems with ideas and imagination, and so never sounds dated. Do Make Say Think is that rare ‘instrumental rock' band that can make an 11/4 time signature not only sound natural but swing too.

April 2007