Do Make Say Think

Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn

(Constellation; 2003)

By Scott Reid | 12 October 2003

Do Make Say Think.

I've been trying to figure out the perfect way to review this album for a couple of weeks now, constantly ditching one idea for another and, up until the moment I write this, still unsure that I should cover the album in three different parts. Sure, the new album is conceptually divided as such and it does sound like three separate EPs placed together to form a full-length (they were recorded in three different sessions), but maybe that wouldn't be the most effective way to cover the album. Unless I looked at all three separately as EPs upon themselves and combined the ratings. That's still pretty lame, but as good as the ideas I've scrapped. Enough stalling.

Winter Hymn (83%)

The first third of the album sounds like a logical extension of & Yet & Yet, all three of its tracks slowly building themselves around succinct harmonious guitar lines and clever use of the band's two drummers (one of the many things which makes their live show so fascinating). Escalating bass lines pump through "Fredericia" before layers of trumpets, feedback and distorted bass push the song forward before breaking down and building once again. "War on Want" is a small transitional piece that leads into one of the band's best compositions to date, "Auberge le Mouton Noir." Sounding like a piece from the new Explosions in the Sky album, "Auberge" amasses a giant wall of sound that culminates with a climax that rivals the best of early GY!BE material.

Country Hymn (74%)

"Auberge" melds into the second third of the album with focuses more on the jazz-rock hybrid that made their first two albums underground classics. "Outer Inner & Secret" builds on a repetitive rhythm before finally letting loose in sporadic spurts of white noise and anticlimaxes. Unfortunately, it's also one of the few songs on the album that fails to pull its meandering aspects together in a satisfying whole. "107 Reasons Why," which could've easily been pulled from Goodbye Enemy Airship, is another shorter piece (though twice as satisfying as the ten minute piece that precedes it) that leads into the masterpiece of the second section, "Ontario Plates." The spasmodic rhythm of the track gracefully carries the jazz-infused bass and horns to the explosive and celebratory finale --something which many thought was sorely missing from & Yet & Yet's "restrictive" discipline.

Secret Hymn (86%)

Then there's the last third, supposedly their attempt at taking on a more straightforward rock/pop angle, though obviously their view of what constitutes a pop element is drastically different from the rest of the universe. The three tracks are definitely more accessible cousins of the first two-thirds of the album, but still construct themselves in equally clever fashions. The lead guitar lines on the massive "Horns of a Rabbit" are a welcome surprise and though "It's Gonna Rain" is a fairly pointless transitional track (spending its two minutes reproducing the sound of rain), "Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!" ranks amongst the most immediate and moving things they've recorded to date.

Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn

Completely devoid of the monotony that had spoiled & Yet & Yet for many (and also which made it such a consistently beautiful listen for those, like me, who loved it), Country Hymn is impenetrable at times, creating a slight rift between the far superior Winter Hymn and Secret Hymn. This is still a promising chapter in the band's development, but with with so many doors opened on the record, we can only hope they choose the right directions to follow in the future.