On To Infinity, Special Explosion deliver a focused and pensive love letter to their past, present and future while establishing themselves as an essential NW artist for the foreseeable future.
Special Explosion have been keeping quiet for an unusually long amount of time. After having spent much of the early 2010’s touring with a who’s who of “emo revival” staples, and establishing a strong touring pattern in the Northwest showcasing their blend of indie/folk rock, Special Explosion took a step back to quietly hone a sound that finds them exploring the spaces between a variety of genres.
To Infinity begins with the song “Wet Dream,” which quickly establishes a very open atmospheric sound that permeates through much of the record. We are then introduced to a confident vocal performance that blends the folky wisp of guitarist Andy Costello, and the dynamics of multi-instrumentalist Lizzie Costello whose vocals range from a hushed whisper to a soaring projected vocal that could easily find itself in a more traditional pop setting.
Special Explosion have always been a band that revels in vulnerability, and there are moments on this record where this is on display, however, there is a specific temper in the delivery of the vocals that makes these moments completely fresh and unique. It is around the halfway point of the album when the songs take a Fleetwood-esque tone, specifically in the vocal interplay on “Going My Way,” that begins true to the established tone on the record, and then shifts as the drummer picks up a swinging snare drum cadence, which speaks to the impact that the drummer has on the overall mood of the record; from the dark wash of the cymbals to the restrained yet splashy jazzy style that drives the more uptempo parts of the song, this solid percussive exhibition is one that doesn’t overpower the sonic canvas, yet demands the listener’s attention.
The latter half of the record sees Special Explosion exploring territory that wouldn’t be alien on a Broken Social Scene record—the album single “Fire” comes through with an infectious vocal cadence that finds gravity in repetition and the building of tension that climaxes with a lush full band crescendo before pulling the rug out from under the listener to end the song. It’s a seemingly simple moment on the record that truly showcases the maturity and growth this band has poured into their art over the last four years. In conclusion, Special Explosion deliver a focused and pensive love letter to their past, present and future while establishing themselves as an essential NW artist for the foreseeable future with an album that richly rewards repeated listens.