There’s no joy in saying that Landslide will be Arcane Roots’ final release, but it doesn’t come as much of a surprise either. Despite their dedicated fanbase and commitment to touring (as well as being just generally great both live and on record), the trio have really struggled to make their mark in a bigger way pretty much since the beginning, and the transition to what was almost full-blown post-rock on last year’s Melancholia Hymns didn’t help that at all. So in a way, Landslide serves as one final hurrah for the trio, consisting of a new song alongside reworked versions of three songs from their last album.
And above all, if Landslide does anything, it’s show the creativity that this band has that will be sorely missed. Even if Melancholia Hymns was a noticeable dip from their best work (a viewpoint that the majority of listeners seem to disagree with), the core of great, atmospheric rock songs was there, and on Landslide, they’ve been given the room to shine, dialing back the volume and seeing electronics take over as the primary focus for some truly gorgeous post-rock. Sure, the brittle tick of Matter (Revel) still isn’t great and goes against a lot of fluidity shown elsewhere, but it’s done a lot better on Off The Floor (Fade), pushing the electronic buzzes right to the front, contrasting grinding synths against the wide, clear mix and Andrew Groves’ stunning falsetto in a way that weirdly feels natural.
Again, it’s a sense of creativity with Arcane Roots that really shines through, and while there’s more mileage in allowing these songs to simply flow past than provide anything exceptionally engaging or catchy, there’s still a lot that can be done with that. Just take the new track Before Me (Over) for an example of that, in which a lonely piano line pits Groves against Emily Denton’s equally gorgeous vocals as the strings and synths begin to bleed in. There’s such a tangible sense of beauty in these songs that’s exemplified by their fragility and sense of atmosphere; even in the title track’s passage of heavier drum work and strings, the progression to the point through darker synths feels natural and works wonderfully.
And all of that is incredibly bittersweet to say. In what is Arcane Roots’ final showing of what they can do, they’ve done a great job of it, but the fact that there won’t be more like this feels hollow. It’s a great EP for sure, but it’s disappointing that this was the note they had to go out on, rather than a bigger release that could’ve seen them push their powers to even greater heights on that final note. Still, what’s here is good as it is, with the sort of creativity and tactility that few bands can muster, and even fewer can get right. And that pretty much sums up Arcane Roots as a band – special, and ahead of the game in so many ways.
For fans of: Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Rós
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Landslide’ by Arcane Roots is released on 14th September on Easy Life Records.