Survival Knife

Loose Power

| May 29, 2014

Like its predecessor Unwound, the so-called "post-rock" band that disintegrated in 2002, Survival Knife is a pleasing mix of opposites. Moody in its arrangements and uplifting in its lyrics, alternately discordant and harmoniously arranged, Loose Power relies on the aesthetic thrill of contrast. In this way, it continues the satisfying paradox of Unwound, a band everybody liked even though nobody had heard of them.

The outro of "Cut to the Quick" captures Loose Power at its best. After a muscular, even plodding seven minutes of distorted power chords, it dissolves into a Zeppelin-esque acoustic guitar arpeggio and then, in the distance, a ringing bell. That moment of clarity seems to be what Survival Knife is reaching for: the calm certainty that follows a cathartic burst of noise and emotion.

Most of the time, they get there. "Roman Fever," for example, resolves furious and sometimes atonal chaos into a stern order, and you can hear the emotional determination behind it. Sometimes the tension slackens and messy-to-resolved feels more like a formula than a dynamic. But Survival Knife is very good at what it's good at, even if it could stand to take a few more risks.

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