5 Popes by My Education (Review)

My Education’s greatest asset is their ability to balance their quiet and loud sides, pouring equal time and detail into both.
5 Popes - My Education

There’s no denying the fact that, regardless of how many times I hear it, the sound of a slowly building wall of guitars, rolling and cascading like waves, to an inevitable climax, will always put a smile to my face. From My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive to Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor!, this “wall of sound” thing has been done a thousand times, and it’ll be done a thousand times more. Some do it better than others, some will come off like pale imitations while others can make it sound like the most exhilarating thing in the world.

My Education falls squarely in the latter category.

True, My Education isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been heard before, at least not if you’ve listened to any of the aforementioned artists. And perhaps the best way to quickly describe My Education is to imagine Mogwai if they’d continued in the vein of earlier songs like “Ithica 27 – 9,” “Summer,” or even “Mogwai Fear Satan.” But that isn’t meant to imply that My Education’s songs are formulaic or mere rip-offs, especially when they’re anything but. In fact, I found myself completely floored at how they breathed new life and appreciation into musical elements that I’ve always loved.

My Education’s greatest asset is their ability to balance their quiet and loud sides, pouring equal time and detail into both. Their quieter moments are intricately written, with gentle piano and string touches deftly interwoven with the interplay of their guitars. And when My Education decide to kick things in overdrive (and believe me, they do), it feels completely natural and organic. Furthermore, they don’t toss off their quieter moments just for the sake of assaulting the listener with all manner of guitar abuse. Even in their loudest moments, you can still hear traces of their music’s finer aspects smoothing and refining the sonic assault.

It’s an approach that makes for a stellar EP, providing one of the more consistent and enjoyable listens I’ve had in a long time. I’ve listened to this CD countless times, and despite only having 5 tracks, it has yet to get old. I love the way that “Lesson 3”’s sparse piano notes make a perfect bedfellow for the chiming guitars, the way that even when the guitars reach their crescendo, the piano’s crisp notes still ring out from the maelstrom. “Nightrider Meets the Waterfall” is the EP’s rock n’ roll track, it’s opening minutes reminiscent of 99th Dream-era Swervedriver. However, the final minutes take a deeper, more spacious turn with lazily drifting guitars circling over jazz-like drums and a deeper groove.

The EP’s finest moment, however, is reserved for “Deep Cut.” Gentle cascades of piano and guitar drones imply a sense of peace and contentment. Even as the song reaches its inevitable climax, it still retains those gentler sounds, just giving them a little more oomph. And the album closes with the 9‑minute “Crime Story.” At times, the caterwaul of guitar and violins stretches towards Godspeed territory, but ends with a graceful, piano-laced denouement (and thankfully, no apocalyptic or cryptic utterances). All in all, an incredible EP that promises even better things on the horizon.

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