...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - So Divided
Record Label- Interscope Records
Release Date - November 14, 2006
A band name with ten words might make people think you are compensating for something. Thank goodness this is not the case with Austin, Texas’s …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (or Trail of Dead for this review). Trail of Dead are very talented musicians with a vision as big as their name. So Divided has the power to cut a blazing trail through plenty of albums released this year.
Trail of Dead is a fairly experimental band that will bring instruments like pianos, strings and different types of percussion into many songs. Trail of Dead contains elements that could be loosely compared to The Dismemberment Plan or Brazil, but this band is hard to place in a set genre. If I had to put this band on the “spectrum”, I would call them alt-indie rock. I hate the term “indie”, especially since this band is on a major label. But the word brings up a certain connotation to the masses that fits Trail of Dead’s sound, so I must use it. Cringe.
“Wasted State of Mind” features both pianos and a percussion part that can only be described as tribal. The vocals, which are usually echoed, high pitched and artfully scratchy, work surprisingly well with any type of song Trail of Dead can dream up. These songs have the properties of anthems, but they are more along the style of prog rock rather than 80’s hair bands.
One of the strongest songs on this album is actually a cover by Guided by Voices (for me, pretend like you know who they are). “Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory” is a soft, piano-driven track that slows the album down considerably. The placement of this song is perfect and the ending of this song is extremely pleasing. Finally, a climax that doesn’t need thirty-five dead bodies covered in blood to let us know we are supposed to be satisfied (I’m looking at you, Bruce Willis).
An amazing talent and treat from Trail of Dead is their ability to write songs that don’t stay stagnant. Songs may change from loud, soft, fast or slow seamlessly and without hindering the listening experience. “So Divided”, “Stand in Silence” and “Naked Sun” are perfect examples. It’s almost as if we are hearing two songs in one. Why can’t more things in life be like this?
There are a few songs that really hurt So Divided, without them, this album might have received a near perfect score. First, there is a complete loss of flow starting with the song “Witches Web”. This song is slow; a remake of a limited song by Trail of Dead and quite frankly, it is not very good. Also, the outro song “Segue: In The Realms of the Unreal” is too eerie for its own good. The song is not necessary and a real bore. I would also not recommend listening to this song in the dark, as it freaked me out.
The album saves itself with the closer, “Sunken Dreams.” This song features a choir, epic drums and intentionally scratchy production. There is also a spoken word section, which is hard to pull off, though Trail of Dead does it well. I am reminded of a less frantic Aaron Weiss (mewithoutYou), but that feeling is very brief. This song is an ideal finish to So Divided.
Trail of Dead perfected the sound they were striving for on their previous full length, Worlds Apart. This album is cohesive, and while they do nothing mind-blowing, Trail of Dead keep you engaged and interested throughout the album. This band proves that everything is, in fact, better in Texas. So Divided is just another reason why we can fly our flag at full mast, our rock music is better than yours.