Departure Songs

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If Hammock's fifth album is something of an extension and consolidation of their past work -- if nothing else there's a definite sign of increased ambitions with its two CDs' worth of music -- it's also a flat-out triumphant one, recorded with the assistance of Tim Powles, who guested with his Church bandmate Steve Kilbey on the previous year's Asleep in the Downlights. Whatever post-rock has become as a signifier -- in the case of Hammock, it's a question of just how beautifully crushing they can make an ambient shoegaze blissout release in their particular vein -- the duo of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson knows exactly what to do. Singling out exact moments or songs is a bit of a trick, in that few albums in a relentlessly single-song era are conceived so clearly as a unified listen, one track following another as a further setting of mood and pace. But the songs with vocals in particular, are a new turn for the band, and push the feelings of exultant melancholy to the fore -- little surprise they have titles like "Ten Thousand Years Won't Save Your Life," "(Let's Kiss) While All the Stars Are Falling Down," and "(Tonight) We Burn Like Stars That Never Die." It's romantic adolescence and what follows to the nth degree, but the blended vocals of the duo, as well as guest singer Christine Glass Byrd, do the trick for them each time. Meanwhile, if "(Leaving) the House Where We Grew Up" is only a penultimate number instead of the epic all-around closer it feels like, it's still perfectly momentous in context.

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