Anathema

We're Here Because We're Here

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Anathema are one of the select few bands that actually progress with each album, honing their songwriting skills to provide a better means for their musical message -- but a six-year gap in the recording schedule that preceded We're Here Because We're Here still left many fans wondering, where do they go from here? Turns out, it was in the right direction. The most easily recognized change is the increased emphasis on piano, which is the leading instrument on most songs, but if this description brings the likes of Coldplay and Fray to mind, the music does not, for the simple reason that Chris Martin, let alone the horde of his mainstream rock imitators, can never rival the immense emotional charge of Anathema's music. The cathartic effect is further amplified by the music's elaborate but clear arrangements, with pianos, strings, shivering vocals, and quietly wailing guitars blending together into elegant and dramatic songs with a rich sound of mini-symphonies -- and clever hooks hidden in the textures. Vibe-wise, it is prime Anathema, with the mood tethering on the brink of despair, but always resolving into optimism or at least dreamy, elegiac resignation (to speak of maturity again), the way no one seems to be able to do since Sunny Day Real Estate threw in the towel a decade previously (though the two bands have little in common stylistically). We're Here Because We're Here is not perfect -- the polished production smoothes out the hooks, making it easy to glide on the surface instead of immersing oneself into the music on the first listen. But still, this is Anathema's most mature and complex effort to date -- exactly as could be expected of the band's new album.

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