The Little Explorer – Siderali

ImageThe Little Explorer released their self-titled debut in 2003, showcasing an interesting fusion of screamo and post-rock that had definite potential, but sounded a little unrefined. The follow-up, Siderali, was recorded in 2006 but wasn’t released – thanks largely to the band being dropped from their label – and was archived until, seven years on, they decided to let it see daylight. So, we finally have Siderali, and – in this reviewer’s opinion – it easily makes up for the delay, being mellower, more engaging and easier to enjoy than their debut.

One of the first things that struck me about it is that the band seem to have matured in the three years since recording their debut; Siderali sounds far less angst-laden (the claustrophobically frantic moments of Play Softer and Turner’s Dance are nowhere to be found here) and instead of conveying the customary pain and distress of the genre, it sounds like the band having fun. The mellower, often instrumental, sections seem playful and calming, and the heavier moments are hooky and exciting, rather than bitter or angry. The soft, instrumental opener Harmonics makes it clear from the start that the album will maintain a constant melodic focus, and it’s complimented nicely by the fantastic following combination of A Fork in the Road and Lampshades for Neo-Tokyo, which utilise tempo variation, quirky – yet very catchy – riffs and passionate vocals to completely and absolutely hook the listener, and from here it just keeps on going; the aforementioned melodic emphasis is combined with a sense of evolution and progression (which has mostly likely rubbed off from the band’s post-rock influences) that is used to some degree in every song, resulting in the constant impression that the album is going somewhere. Their direction might not always be predictable – clean breaks, such as in Spares, are often unexpected and songs occasionally explode without warning (35 Summers)  – but this only serves to make it more interesting.

Siderali is by no means perfect; the vocals are rather rough around the edges and the aggressive moments, which are far less diverse than the gentler parts, begin to lose their edge by the end of the album. I also get the impression that there is room for further refinement; although this sounds more focused than their debut, it also lacks a lot of its intensity and – whilst it’s a long way from being vapid – feels more like an exercise in great songwriting than a passionate performance. A hypothetical future release might investigate working on this, since I believe that the band could have (and still can) go a long way if they continue to realise the potential found here. I recommend this, especially to anyone that enjoys innovative songwriting.

3.9/5

Highlights:

Lampshades for Neo-Tokyo, A Fork in the Road, Global Nod

Tracklist:

  1. Harmonics
  2. A Fork in the Road
  3. Lampshades for Neo Tokyo
  4. Glued
  5. Spares
  6. 35 Summers
  7. Noddy
  8. Global Nod
  9. Siderali

Bandcamp page (free legal download)

See also: Apart – Gray Light

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