Harsh Truths: Do Make Say Think?s return to form fails.

Do Make Say Think has still always managed to surprise, even in a genre as wide-open as post-rock. The Canadian group’s previous effort, You, You’re a History in Rust, featured concise songs, beautifully accessible melodies, a chamber music bent, and, for the first time in the band’s 10 or so years, charming rough-around-the-edges vocals. It was also Do Make Say Think’s best album, which puts its latest record, Other Truths, in a bit of an uncomfortable spot. Other Truths is a return to the aesthetic the band pioneered on earlier albums like 2002’s & Yet & Yet—long, glacially paced compositions that either give the band room to develop sweeping drama or play out like largely aimless jams. Other Truths consists of four songs (each named after one word of the band’s action-oriented name) averaging about 10 minutes apiece—long enough for each of them to oscillate between boring to sublime. Case in point: opening track “Do,” which starts with typically sunny clean guitar picking (like that of the uptempo beginning of “Herstory of Glory” from History in Rust). Then, a more distorted guitar chimes in and the two instruments are soon playing off of each other atop jazzy drumming and a solid bass groove. It all builds to a crescendo, at which point horns join in to accentuate the climax of the song. Later, “Say” uses the same blueprint to better effect, building slowly from repeating guitar motives and clattering percussion into a kind of joyous sunrise anthem. It’s a good formula, but the band sounds way too comfortable with it. Two-thirds of the way through, “Say” just fades out into the ether—a variation, sure, if not an especially compelling one. Some post-rock bands, like San Francisco’s Tarentel, have successfully crossed over into ambient music, but Do Make Say Think’s attempts at spacey mood mostly fall flat. “Think,” the album closer, drifts by in a pleasant haze of brushed percussion and slow guitar twangs. It’s one of the drowsiest tracks the band has ever recorded, and while it certainly has its charms, it falls way short of transcendence. Like most of the album, it’s pretty—but not much more.