Austin, Texas,’ art-rock elder statesmen …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead makes a lot of noise on its latest release “Lost Songs,” but to what end?
The band, often shortened to Trail of Dead, has been nothing if not prolific, putting out a new record or EP every few years, the last being 2011’s “Tao of the Dead.” But it’s grown less successful in keeping things fresh each time out, and has arguably been on the decline since 2005’s ambitious and strange album “Worlds Apart.”
“Lost Songs” does little to correct the course. The pummeling first track “Open Doors” borders on self-parody, while “Pinhole Cameras” smacks of early Sparta. “Up to Infinity” relies on the loud-quiet-loud formula so obviously that it sounds like a dozen other songs the band has already recorded.
The creeping synth flourishes on “Opera Obscura” and adds an interesting Italian horror soundtrack feel, before the band buries it in typical bombastic form. “Catatonic,” however, features some fine riffing, recalling its true breakout album, 2002’s “Source Tags & Codes.”
This is a band of skilled players, and they’re good at what they do. The problem is the band refuses to deviate from the sound it’s cultivated in any meaningful way.
One would be hard-pressed to call this “bad music.” It’s at the very least dynamic, and nearly impossible to listen to passively. But it’s regrettably uninteresting in its sameness.
Trail of Dead has done these songs before, and better, on previous albums. In the end, to quote Shakespeare, “Lost Songs” is sadly “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”