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Again For The Win
We’ve Been Here Forever
Deep Elm; 2012

In another slice of the multiverse, Again For The Win dominates both terrestrial and satellite radio. You know, that world where anthems are de rigueur, but not just because we need every song to send our emotions and sensibilities soaring to the heights. In this world, we welcome the chance to lay our hearts bare for everyone to see, and we look forward to the opportunity to sharing our lives with our friends and loved ones. We’ve Been Here Forever proudly encourages us to reach for the stars and to bring a few someones along with us on the journey.

This is big, bold, vintage arena rock that manages to steer clear (mostly) of the trappings that plague the genre. Maybe it’s because the superb guitar work and aching vocals aren’t always so shiny, clean, and scrubbed. Then again, I have a penchant for idiosyncratic rock drumming that prevents the tempo from settling into a generic 4/4 feel, you know the type of unimaginative time-keeping that sucks all the energy from a song. None of that schlock is present here, as the record merges ‘80s anthems with keening post-punk and third-wave emo to great effect.

Call it Muse meets The Gaslight Anthem. I also like the idea of Explosions in the Sky playing with The Joy Formidable and Full Collapse-era Thursday. The arrangements are honed to a sharp edge, which provides plenty of opportunity for this Austin, TX outfit to show of its collective chops. On tracks like “Architects,” “Nights Like These,” and “Aspirations,” the attempts to wed prog-lite to classic rock and emo are a bit distracting, but the band mostly succeeds with its efforts.

However you slice it, We’ve Been Here Forever should be in the ears of more people. Whether you listen to it in your headphones, at mid-sized clubs, in the middle of the afternoon at an outdoor festival, and inside a spacious arena, songs like “Having Heard Sirens,” “Your Heaviest Light,” “Guns,” and “The Lines Above Our Heads” possess the size, heart, and heft to fill up each of those locales. So, just because we can’t turn on the radio to hear Again For The Win, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy it and then find ways to share it with our friends. This is passionate music that should be able to transcend hard genre lines with ease – it’s powerfully positive and optimistic, without a hint of guile or irony.