Just under 20 minutes of misty post-rock and washed-over sonic landscapes is what you get on Understated Theory’s Critical Drift. One half of the duo is Tom Moore of Dead Melodies, whose album Slowwave Perception received a good review here recently. Here he partners with Colin Crighton of nil.co, with whose work I am not familiar, to craft an enticing lead-in to their first (I believe) full-length release. (Like many of my reviews, this album has sat for enough time to let Understated Theory finish an entire album before I get around to writing about their EP, which came first.) These five quick songs are mostly laid-back yet pack a lot of sound and layering. A big waft of guitars chords is the first thing to greet you on “Lost in the Midst,” but at two minutes long it’s just an attention-grabber that doesn’t do much more than go “Hey!” Luckily, what follows has more substance. For me, the sweet spot is the stretch of “Left Behind” and “Light Wait.” The former comes in on a lazy beat, acoustic guitar and way-back-there vocals—like a folkified version of dream pop. “Light Wait” is a lounge-style piece gently rubbed to make it sway and warble just a bit. A shuffling drum lick and high chords sweeten and soften the sound. Cool as a cocktail, and just as likely to leave your head swimming just a touch.
Critical Drift has been nice to have on hand for when I’m shuffling songs. And it does what an EP should—it leave me curious enough to want to check out the full-length version to see what Moore and Crighton can do with more time and space. Do check this out.
Available from Sparkwood.