10 Dec 2021 - Jonas
Post-Rock/Neoclassical | The Robot Needs Home Collective | Release date: 19 Nov 2021
“All good things must come to an end” is the old saying that came to mind back in September, 2015, when Maybeshewill announced they would be calling it quits, citing personal reasons, the following year after a final tour which included playing a show in New York City, their first show across the Atlantic Ocean. They had been a band for over a decade at that point and could definitely bow out gracefully, having four albums, an EP, and a sound of their own under their belt. It’s been said that some of the members probably would’ve preferred to keep the show rolling, but given the nature of this band and how tight they were, like a family, it would’ve had to be all in, or not at all, so that was that. On April 15, 2016, they played what was assumed to be their last show, a sold-out one at that, at KOKO in London. The end.. Right?
In 2018, they received an invitation from Robert Smith of The Cure to play at Meltdown, an annual festival in London curated by him that year. For obvious reasons, it was an offer they simply couldn’t refuse, so they rehearsed, played a warm-up show, followed by the festival, and then returned to the shadows again. The show was over and the curtains closed, indefinitely.. Right?
‘All good things must start again’, is how they announced their return in a Facebook post, on January 29, 2020, with an appearance at the annual ArcTanGent festival, while making sure people understood that this wouldn’t be yet another one-off show, but that they were also working on new material together. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly threw a wrench into the gears of their grand live show comeback, with nearly two years passing since they announced their return without actually playing any shows, it didn’t stop them from writing and producing their comeback album, “No Feeling is Final”, which was released on November 19, 2021.
A few weeks have passed since then and I’ve gained some new perspective on what I assumed would be an album of critical acclaim given how much I’ve enjoyed listening to it. The main criticism I’ve seen is that it isn’t the high-energy and upbeat Maybeshewill they’re used to, which is undeniably true. Make no mistake – No Feeling is Final definitely sounds like them, but it doesn’t feel like them. In the past, they’ve always had this knack for bridging the gap between the evocative and emotive properties of post-rock with the intensity and rhythm of math rock. Now they’ve taken on a considerably darker, grounded and more contemplative approach, further deepening the sound with neoclassical elements and acute electronics, in stark contrast to their previous album, “Fair Youth”, which had an optimistic and cheery feel to it.
No, this album isn’t one of hope but acts more like a testament to the uncertain times we live in, standing at the precipice of irrevocable climate change, with the pandemic still gripping the world in its vice, all the while our world leaders are stalling to take action and late-stage capitalism sending the world into one humanitarian crisis after the other through exploitation. If anything, this is a call to action, which is made perfectly clear on the second track, “Zarah”, featuring a speech from Zarah Sultana, a member of the British parliament, calling for radical changes to the harsh socioeconomic realities we currently find ourselves in. Someone told me this album felt like a soundtrack, a statement I’m willing to agree with, namely the soundtrack to our inevitable demise. The only respite we get is on the final track, “Tomorrow”, a solemn piano outro where we are left to lament the day after crossing the Rubicon.
Contrary to the overall tone of this review, I really enjoyed this album, from start to finish, and it keeps growing with every listen. There’s a sense of urgency in all of these tracks, like a race against time, further emphasized by the weeping violins that is present on most tracks. It’s a fresh take on an already proven concept by the band, which could very well be considered their magnum opus with time. Few albums in recent years have managed to capture the essence of time and history as it’s being made, but No Feeling is Final did this with near perfection. The prodigal sons of Maybeshewill haven’t just returned, to form, from their hiatus, but managed to elevate themselves to never-before-seen heights.