Maybeshewill – No Feeling is Final

Posted: 16 November 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , ,

19th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

For a time, Maybeshewill were one of the definitive acts during the golden age of post-rock – and here in 2021 it’s possible to reflect and appreciate that the mid-noughties really was a peak time for the genre. Certainly in the circles I moved, every gig was wall-to-wall post rock, or otherwise there was at least one instrumental act on the bull, brimming with chiming guitars and epic crescendos. They were good times, too, and however quickly it moved from fresh to formulaic, there was a sense of excitement about this music you could lose yourself in. It felt like a moment in time, it felt like a movement, and it was exciting, particularly in Leeds and particularly around The Brudenell, which felt like something of an epicentre with its growing profile. But then again, smaller venues like The Packhorse were also showcasing so many emerging acts all doing that Explosions in the Sky thing.

During this time, Maybeshewill were one of the bands that stood out: while exploiting the template, they also expanded it with the use of strings and samples – plus, they were simply bloody good. And they still are. The title is, perhaps, an allusion to the fact that having called it a day, spent, back in 2016 they have decided to return to both the live forum and recorded a new album.

This recent reanimation was unexpected, but perhaps the last thing we expected to open Maybeshewill’s long-awaited comeback album is a thumping sequenced drum and squelching synth bubble. But then it yields to a rippling piano and a wash of surging, soaring strings and immediately we’re transported to a space of expansive, emotionally-charged instrumental post rock. The three and a half minutes of ‘We’ve Arrived at the Burning Building’ is perfect Maybeshewill – dramatic, expansive, dynamic.

Lead single ‘Zarah’ is up next, with samples lifted from the premier speech from MP Zarah Sultana at its core. It first perfectly into the early arc of the album, and it’s a great track, and anyone who says music and politics shouldn’t mix is wrong. Musicians have a platform that is theirs to use as they see fit, and to see Maybeshewill using their platform in this way is encouraging.

The strings really dominate the arrangements on this album, but there’s a lot of texture and a lot of detail, and propulsive drumming shapes the structures of the songs. ‘Complicity’ is exemplary, as it transitions from a driving swell to a loping, contemplative mid-section that slows the pace before exploding into a fill battery of strings, a barrage of live and electronic percussion, looping piano and driving guitars. Yes, it takes you back at least, if you were there at the time – but it also feels perfectly contemporary and forward-facing.

‘Invincible Summer’ alludes to both Krautrock and 80s AOR with its motoric beat and looping synths and clean guitar that nags away crisply, while ‘The Weight of Light’ is one of those tunes that simply makes you sag with sadness. It possesses an aching beauty, and the surging crescendo is simultaneously uplifting and utterly crushing. There’s a lot going on: ‘Refuturing’ takes a twist into mellow jazz territory, while ‘Green Unpleasant land’ makes a further political statement without words, a gnarly tempest of guitar-driven disquiet.

If the chiming, rolling, mellow ripplings that build to a thunderous storm on the seven-minute-forty-five ‘Even Tide’ is classic post—rock to the point of cliché and bordering on historical with its use of soaring guitars and sustained crescendos, then the brass is very much a departure, and it paves the way for the final salvoes of the seven-minute ‘The Last Hours’ that spirals and soars into the truly epic territories, and the rolling, piano-led ‘Tomorrow’, that sweeps in a wave of optimism.

Together these two tacks draw the album to an exhilarating yet measured close. It’s everything that’s defined the band over the course of their career, making this a most welcome return and an outstanding addition to their catalogue.

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