The Rational Academy
The evolution of The Rational Academy over its decade-plus lifespan has often been in increments, yet on fourth record Winter Haunts ringleader Ben Thompson – along with Thomas Roche, Luke Zahnleiter and Matthew Cooke – has truly captured the modern essence of the band. The gradual move from elegiac indie rock that revelled in its wispy delicacies as much as poignant pauses or therapeutic tremors, to a denser, more brutal sense of catharsis, is the result of a band throwing everything at the wall – not to see what sticks, but because they are sick of second-guessing.
Thompson’s vocals remain as hushed and reverent as ever, yet rather than the music crowding around and buoying it, it is oft drowned like a tidal wave of static destruction, an aural razing of the landscape. Such approaches like the Boris-like doom metal intro to Vast Uncertain doesn’t drown out the nuances of the songwriting though – rather it helps to embody the desperation that these songs hold at their core. And although End Of The Year may feel like a heavier squalling interpretation of the past, Yellow Pony encapsulates everything in a three-and-a-half minute soundbite. It shows the band breaking free of the carapace of the past and becoming something altogether different – harsher, yes, but therein lies the damaged beauty.
The album finishes with the acoustic wistfulness of I Catch The Warmth, which tears the curtain down on another chapter in a wall of feedback, walking into the blinding light to disappear. Winter Haunts shows The Rational Academy as a band of relevance – they have never been more alive in any of their previous incarnations.
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