Song of Return determine their music as post rock, but in reality there is little evidence of the intelligence, depth, subtly and complexity exampled by archetypal post rock acts such as Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Essentially a development from prog-rock, post rock harbours elements of jazz, classical, musique concrete and the avant-garde, none of which are particularly evident in Song of Return’s debut album Limits. In reality Song of Return’s work would appear to be more like dark indie rock flirting with post rock aspirations.
There is a diversity to their work however, and Limits is certainly an interesting take on the indie rock genre. They use complex effects and synth timbres and the programming work, especially on tracks such as The Story of a Cell is good, engaging even. Their work is also rather dynamic, both throughout the album as a whole and within self-contained tracks. For example, where some songs border on triumphant and anthemic, with thunderous tom leads lurching into life, others give way to cold, eerie ambience and indeterminate, low-key sounds. The production of the album is spot-on, with seamless transitions between tracks and within the layering of the individual sounds in each track. With quieter pieces such as One Million Hertz, this high quality production is vital to any success, as the sedate array of sounds, woven together create a beautiful aural tapestry.
There are glimmers of innovation and genuine bleakness within Limits; Trajectory in particular has a cool nonchalance highly reminiscent of Bloc Party circa A Weekend in the City. But this album is essentially a disparate body of work, with only some tracks aligning with the band’s desired post-rock allusions. There is subtly, variety and interest present, but many tracks also have a dated, turn of the centaury indie rock vibe that at times even borders on relating to that heavily contested label – emo. Simple elements such as misplaced synth timbres or guitar techniques affect the whole aspect of certain songs for the worst.
But whilst there are perpetrators such as Shackles that let the album down, others (Anniversary, Trajectory, The Blizzard) really lift it, with a palpable edge of subtly and intelligence present. Limits in certainly an uncertainty, with areas in need of significant development. But there are also slices of transcending charm and intrigue, which are not to be derided.