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Reviews

As We Keep Searching - Growing Suspicions

6.5

album Reviews Feb 24, 03:38pm

A review of Growing Suspicions, the debut release by Ahmedabad's As We Keep Searching. 

 

As We Keep Searching, if you hadn't guessed already, are a post-rock band. So many words in a band name work only and only if those words are Godspeed, You!, Black, and Emperor (in that order). But leaving aside this post-rock and metalcore (As I Lay Dying, yes?) fascination with puff words, the Ahmedabad outfit does a fairly stellar job with a debut release - called Growing Suspicions - that attempts at merging what's nominally come to be called the post-rock sound with Hindi vocals.

What's laudable, and very evident right from opener 'The Tattva', is that while the soft-heavy/steady build-up dynamics of the sound are very much in place, the crescendos these guys aim at in their music generally practise some form of restraint. They reach peaks after the simmering build-ups, but there's an understated demeanour about said peaks. 'When Will They Talk?', which immerses itself inside the gentle keys that introduce the song, showcases a delicate self-control and maturity about it, which does get lost just a little as the vocals begin to direct the song forward once they appear. In fact, the vocals here are a double-edged sword - on the one hand, they're carefully downplayed to meld into the arrangements and are for the most part tastefully deployed as a means of accentuating the vibrant melodies that form the nucleus of Growing Suspicions; they serve to avoid monotony from creeping in, as often happens with bands that consciously write 'post-rock' music. On the other, the Hindi vocals do tend to detract a bit from the territories the band treads into. (I'm admittedly not a fan of Hindi vocals in traditionally western music, as I've stated before, because of the inflection and the whims of the language, which seem unsuited to the music to this reviewer's ears.)

Here, the vocals rarely (if ever) take centre-stage; they're never in your face. They're in between the lines, which is great. But the in-between-the-lines of the singing here, when placed against the in-between-the-lines of the music, often (not always) causes some kind of a clash. There is a very prominent left-brain right-brain disparity (especially on 'In Circles') that took this reviewer several listens to repair and ingest the album. That could be the fault of the music; it may very well just be the fault of the listener's biases.

But moving on, the album, clocking 41 minutes, features two remixes by Brit producer LEROI which, as standalone pieces, are excellent - capturing the pulse of the songs and adding a solemn melancholic thread to them. But the two songs are also featured on the album in their regular avatars, which fact affects the narrative of the album a bit, lending the two pieces a kind of 'filler' quality that doesn't fully do justice to them (particularly since the non-electro-ized version of 'The Tattva' is a personal highlight). There's also a concept at play lyrically - about deteriorating values and destruction, both self- and outward. What sticks out most, though, about Growing Suspicions and As We Keep Searching, is the honesty of the music. Sometimes, well beyond the arrangements and the structural experiments and the songwriting craft and the maturity of the musicians, the honesty becomes the primary characteristic of a piece of music. So while an emotional connect with Growing Suspicions was lacking, even after repeated listens, for this particular writer, the honesty, the sincerity with which the band has written and played the songs, defines the lasting identity of the record.

Stream Growing Suspicions by As We Keep Searching below: 

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