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Album Review: Red Sparowes - The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer
by Ryan Felder

Red Sparowes are an instrumental post-rock band. To those who might not know what that means, the genre is described as orchestral rock. I find it difficult to listen to post-rock because the songs tend to be very long and take a long time to make their musical "point." However, I didn't encounter this problem with Red Sparowes' 2010 release, The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer.

Red Sparowes stays true to the post-rock aesthetic while keeping the music interesting. I think the thing about this record that interests me over a lot of other post-rock that I've heard is the quality of the drumming. I often find the rhythm sections of many post-rock groups to be bland and uninteresting. The drumming on this record, though never flashy or over the top, is steady, powerful, and evocative. The track "A Hall of Bombs" is a great example of this. Another thing that separates this record from the post-rock standard is the tones of the guitars. While almost all post-rock guitar that I've heard plays almost exclusively in clean tones, I hear a significant amount of overdrive on these guitars at times. It's just another little detail that really sets this record apart from the pack. The understated use of delay and other guitar effects also adds a lot to the music at times.

I find that with post-rock, you either love it or hate it. There's not much middle ground. I like this album a lot. Those who have dabbled in this interesting genre and have been turned off by things like huge song lengths and slow-to-unfold melodies might very well enjoy this record. Many post-rock tracks will be over ten minutes long. However, on this record, no track runs over eight minutes. The music is a little more compact and inviting, which leads to an overall better listening experience.  This is yet another great album released by an artist on Sargent House Records, the label that is home to excellent progressive rock music like Rx Bandits, Maps & Atlases, and Zechs Marquise. If you're looking for a quick overview of the record, I'd recommend the tracks "A Hall of Bombs" and "A Mutiny." Happy listening!