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The Quickening

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    7
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The sense of delicate precision evident from the start of The Quickening, guitars, glockenspiel, and more arranged into a clockwork progression, finds Remember Remember, now transformed from Graeme Ronald's one-man act into a septet, at once of their moment and a little out of it. If there's been plenty of reach-for-the-stars "big" indie rock in the 21st century (certainly it's no surprise that the band is signed to Mogwai's label from the start), there's also something in "White Castle"'s slow arcing swell that suggests -- just -- a hint of earlier minimalism, not exactly the Feelies' translation of serial music into rock & roll perhaps but still notable. When a song like "Scottish Widows" comes to the fore, only piano, vibraphone, strings, and similarly non-rock-per-se instruments audible, it's nice to hear a band that can use those elements as central components instead of simply window dressing. A sense of silvery grace permeates The Quickening, exchanging the punishing approach of acts like Swans and Godspeed You Black Emperor! in favor of something that seems to glint off waves -- as can be heard on the appropriately titled "Ocean Potion," quick guitar melodies and busy, skittering percussion matching a gently triumphant feeling. The sense of building to climaxes and subsequent releases is also something that very much marks the general sound of the group among its peers, but again it's handled very well and with a bright rather than crushing touch, as can be heard on the especially lovely "Unclean Powers." Credit as well to a sense of humor at work, however groan-inducing -- it's not for nothing that the vaguely Morricone/spaghetti-Western-sounding track "Hey Zeus" is titled the way it is.

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