Do Make Say Think:
Every few years and accompanied by little fanfare, Do Make Say Think comes out of seeming hibernation to release a superb album of “instrumental rock” and then just as quickly vanishes from the public eye. That pattern continues with the Toronto-based quintet's sixth full-length, Other Truths, whose long-form tracks weigh in at a svelte forty-four minutes. Expect the band to follow the album's release with a small number of concert dates before once again disappearing until the next go-round. As in the past, the group—Ohad Benchetrit (bass, guitar, saxophone, flute), Charles Spearin (bass, guitar, trumpet), Justin Small (guitar), David Mitchell (drums), and James Payment (drums)—invests its through-composed pieces of intricate design—rock, country, dub, and jazz conjoined into genre-transcending set-pieces—with an energy level that can be so inflamed it verges on punk; at the same time, the band can also, when the need arises, play with restraint and gentleness. With three tracks exceeding ten-minute running times, the group takes full advantage of the opportunity to explore narrative arc in the album's four compositions.
“Do” roars from the gate with an hellacious intensity that flirts with going out of control without ever quite doing so. The group strips its sound down to its raw essence, with stabbing guitar lines, pulsating bass lines, and flailing drums leading the visceral charge. Voicing the composition's main theme, intertwining guitar riffs lock horns before a mid-song, six-string-generated inferno almost incinerates the track; having collapsed into shards, the music then gathers itself together for a gentle coda. More epic and sonically expansive than the opener, “Make” adds horns and vocals (by The Akron Family and Lullabye Arkestra) to its raging guitars-and-drums storm. Having reached its peak, the music implodes two-thirds of the way through, leaving shuddering guitars to smolder before an elegiac horn ensemble rises from the ashes to bring about a lovely resolution. Threading a spidery guitar line into its fabric, “Say” opts for a more serpentine attack in its polyrhythmic drum patterns and elegant euphoria in its melodic uplift; some of the album's most arresting moments occur during the piece's last half when the music segues from rapture to wistfulness. Reduced to a vocal chorale, the final two minutes are perhaps the album's quietest but also loveliest. The lights remain low when “Think” serves up its entrancing chord changes in a late-night lounge mode, with drums purring alongside tremolo guitars for a pastoral eight minutes. As it has in its past releases, the group strikes a hard-earned balance between live abandon and studious control, and does so with little fuss but loads of passion and personality. That the band christened Other Truths' tracks using the group name shouldn't be read as a gesture of laziness or lack of imagination but instead as one signifying immediacy and directness—“cutting to the chase,” as it were.