[sic] Magazine

To Destroy A City – Go Mirage

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Chicago’s To Destroy A City return with surprising third album Go Mirage. Last time we convened on SUNLESS, I recall noting (if not bemoaning) scant development from their eponymous post-rock debut. I liked SUNLESS fine enough but I pegged it in the ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ category. On Go Mirage the trio have added vocals. It’s a move that doesn’t radically alter the mood but rather nuances it. I have enjoyed post-rock since its earliest days but I’ve always been of the opinion that whole albums can be a challenge, both for artist and audience alike. It’s about sustaining interest. For me the genre is better suited to gigs and shorter formats of releases. Even gigs can suffer if the (often breathtaking) instrumental compositions become formulaic. Vocals add something – a focal point, a window into the music and, of course, personality.

In the case of To Destroy A City, guitarist Michael Marshall was the one to step up, figuratively and literally. His fragile, ‘Lost Boy’ intonations suit the music well. Whether it’s because of Marshall I cannot be sure, but I am now detecting a distinct dream-pop vibe to Go Mirage. Marshall’s breezy coo evokes the likes of A.R.Kane and For Against. The music nods back to that era too. All this being said, the album remains distinctly post-rock with all the soaring and rumbling that the genre implies.

The album itself is nicely varied. It did take me a while to crack it though, despite the overall accessibility of their sound. Perhaps opening track, ‘Final Kiss’, misled me somewhat as it doesn’t feel like a beginning. There’s a ‘just visiting’ vibe to the song that I can’t seem to shake. On each of my numerous play-throughs I find myself waiting to get past this one. Stronger, darker material follows. ‘Never To Return’ is the one that puts me in mind of For Against. ‘Beholder’ is epic in scope and loaded with drama. There are shades of Depeche Mode in its end sequence.

Elsewhere, tracks like ‘She Knows’ grow from standard post-rock tropes into electronica territory and would likely impress hugely in a live setting. Some material here is verging on gothic or at the very least the doomier side of post-punk. The title track is a nice example of this, taking Goth scales and wringing a majestic post-rock track out of them.
The cover art is gorgeous too. I cannot quite decide whether we’re looking at some gigantic gas planet or something more microscopic? A blood vessel perhaps? Maybe that’s the whole point. That same dichotomy is at play within the music itself. Are we up close and intimate or off the scale with sweeping majesty?

Do we really even have to choose?

Go Mirage is out now on n5MD. There are some stunning coloured vinyl options too.

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