Unlike many convoluted paths down which indie-music has diverged, post-rock operates on a surprisingly simple premise: take the instruments that make rock music, but don't play rock music with them, yet somehow still capture the spirit that makes rock music be rock music. Post-rock remains one of the more untainted genres, although it does require a subtle touch not to overdo it. With their debut album, Bears in the Yukon, Seattle trio You.May.Die.In.The.Desert step up to the challenge and only occasionally stumble into excess.
With strong attention to technical aspects, Bears in the Yukon places a great emphasis on unusual time signatures and rhythms—fun music to play since the jams are a proving ground for instrument prowess, but not necessarily fun music to listen to. If there is an attribute that noteworthy post-rock acts like Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor can credit with their success, it is that dynamics and subtleties are where the caliber of the music shines, more so than avant-garde instrumentals. When You.May.Die.In.The.Desert choose to do so, they, too, have an ear for discreetly building momentum. The finest work on the album is found in these more modest pieces when detailed precision takes the forefront to clever time signatures. Here, the guitar work is deliberate and gradual, once even being supplemented with an electronic drumbeat that fits right in place—a touch that asks the question why they chose to ration the drum machine. If there is a plight of the album, it is this sort of oversight. While You.May.Die.In.The.Desert are a step beyond many Seattle bands, they do not always apply their talent to the right places.