Below the Sea

Blame It on the Past

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With their third opus, Below the Sea have reached maturity. Blame It on the Past can be approached and assessed on its own terms, without the need to resort to post-rock name-dropping. Once again, the band has grown in tightness and musicianship. Original bassist Mathieu Lévesque is out, replaced by Victor Meyer, who provides a stronger anchor for Pascal Asselin's ever-changing drum patterns. Patrick Lacharité's guitar work has also grown more varied, with new effects (including some fine backwards playing) and melodies that sound like a post-rocker tempted by surf music. Blame It on the Past is a short album, but its 40 minutes are put to excellent use. Each of the nine tracks clocks in at somewhere between three and five minutes. Short and to the point, they all focus on the theme at hand. Surprisingly, this is done so without sacrificing on atmospheres -- a key element of the post-rock style. The trio proves that it is not necessary to spend five minutes establishing a mood before diving into the first guitar line. Tunes like "Anonymity," "As Is," and "Light at Night" manage to lull the listener into a gentle half sleep, treat him or her to some exquisite melodies, include a few changes, and bring him or her back to the real world, all within four minutes. Even more importantly, these pieces leave a lasting impression. After a few listens, you'll be whistling a few of these in the shower. If post-rock as a style has been accused of self-indulgence (sometimes rightfully so), Below the Sea remedy the situation. Blame It on the Past strips off the style's excesses and delivers it in radio-ready chunks. If there is any justice in the music business, this album will be the group's international ticket. Highly recommended.

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