Eleven years into the game and (arguably) Wicklow’s finest post rock outfit God Is An Astronaut are onto their seventh album. Origins is an apt title. The band have said that the album is a return to their origins, a step back (but not backwards) to the music that drove the men from the Glen to embark on their musical journey a decade ago. So does this retrospection gel well with GIAA’s usually forward looking musical direction or are we left with hollow rose tinted nostalgia?
‘Spiral Code’ is a fine case in point. The track has a distinctive ’80s vibe with ringing guitars, a Cure-like jaunty keyboard line running through it and then as the song concludes keyboards swirl above us in the mix, the guitars distort and crescendo with the sterling drumming of Lloyd Hanney keeping it all grounded. Yup it works alright, they’ve still retained their fundamental epic feel and magnificence and the formative influences add some additional colour to their usual modus operandi.
The band beefed up from a three to a five piece last year to bolster their live sound and it’s this same quintet that reports for duty on the album, with Jamie Dean and The Butterfly Explosion’s Gazz Carr joining the original trio in the studio. The new line up offers fresh blood and additional musical elements for the Kinsella brothers to craft and sculpt. The inclusion of several tracks with vocals may be enough to frighten off the diehard fan but fear ye not Johnny Shoegaze, this is no singer-songwriter affair. The vocals are not given centre stage, more treated as additional instruments, processed and moulded to contribute to the songs’ narratives rather than being thrust centre stage to direct it (‘Reverse World’ and ‘Exit Dreams’ for example).
Tracks like the heavily riff laden ‘Red Moon Lagoon’ will feel familiar to returning fans but inclusions like ‘Light Years from Home’ point to a more electro-feeling future. Maybe this album won’t please all the die-hard GIAA fans out there but that’s their loss and it’s sure to acquire GIAA some new followers to add to their ever increasing European fan base. Origins is the sound of a band rebooting themselves as they gear up for another ten years of sonic majesty. It’s an album well worth checking out and will appeal to those gentle souls who normally flee upon hearing the phrases “post rock”, “space rock” or even, God forbid, “shoe gaze”. And if live and loud is how you like to get your kicks don’t miss them on tour. If you think GIAA are good in the studio, wait until you see them unleash this beast live.