To Destroy A City:
To Destroy A City
Not inaccurately, n5MD itself suggests listeners might be tempted to draw analogies between To Destroy A City and kindred n5MD acts Lights Out Asia and port-royal. Certainly To Destroy A City tills a similar field to its label brethren, though the blend of shoegaze and post-rock the Chicago-based trio's issued on its self-titled debut album holds up very well on its own terms, thank you very much. It's got all of the epic drama and guitar-laced atmosphere one associates with those genres, and one comes away from the recording impressed by how accomplished the album's emotive set-pieces are for such a relatively new band. A typical piece assembles reverb-heavy guitar lines, electric piano, synth washes, electronic beat progamming, and live drumming into a stately setting of about six minutes duration, making “Narcotic Sea,” a dramatic slow-builder that climaxes in a rush of guitar-drums-and-electric piano splendour, a representative example of the band's music.
With eight pieces clocking in at forty-one minutes, the album's succinct, too, as the group times the individual pieces wisely—neither too short nor too long, each sticks around long enough to convincingly make its case before ceding the stage to its successor. Often mournful and melancholy in tone, the album's tracks nevertheless convey measured hopefulness and uplift as they work towards their oft-soaring resolutions. To Destroy A City is thoughtfully sequenced, too, with the album following a clear trajectory that begins with the stately “Metaphor,” where sparse piano chords and atmospheric guitar peals establish a melancholy mood, and then carries on into “The Marvels of Modern Civilization,” an New Order-esque jaunt that offers a counterpoint to the brooding character of the other tracks. In keeping with its title, the penultimate “Goodbye, Dear Friend” is understandably elegiac, while the closing “March” works a bit of Sigur Ros-like grandeur into its intensifying attack. For the record, though Andrew Welch (drums, synths, programming), Jeff Anderson (guitar, keyboards), and Michael Marshall (guitar) only formally pooled their respective talents in the summer of 2010, the refined product of their labours sounds like the work of a band that's been together much longer.