Vessels - Helioscope
A band who remain a hugely promising proposition.
Although technically impressive, and certainly more interesting than the legions of pale Explosions In The Sky clones currently saturating the post-rock genre, there’s always been something strangely clinical about Vessels and this, their second full-length, does little to alter that perception. Perhaps it’s the pristine production job, which buffs every layer to a disconcertingly perfect shine, or perhaps it’s just that, for all the structural twists that tracks like serpentine opener ‘Monoform’ take, this is essentially a rehash of the band’s debut record, but it’s difficult to escape the feeling that much of ‘Helioscope’ simply represents a detached exercise in studio trickery and rhythmic intricacy. And then there are the insufferably bland vocals, which once again feel like a cursory gesture, an ill-advised attempt to differentiate the band from their peers that simply sees them and up in Minus The Bear territory. That said, when Vessels hit their stride, they remain a hugely impressive proposition; the immensely satisfying chug of ‘Art / Choke’ suggesting that Battles would probably sound better if they were a metal band, while ‘The Trap’ evokes a number of US indie touchstones without ever descending into pastiche and, taken as a whole, ‘Helioscope’ represents another intriguing release from a band who remain a hugely promising proposition.