Like so many before and after them, Quicksand were a product of their time, filtering a growing boredom with grunge through the eyes of the so-called alt-rock scene by taking a more angular approach to the melodies and pop sensibility of Seattle’s finest and mixing it with the attitude and occasionally ferocity of New York hardcore. Now, more than two decades after the 1995 release of their seminal ‘Manic Compression’ album (and almost immediate split), the post-hardcore titans return with ‘Interiors’, which sounds much like one would expect, that is to say older, wiser, more mature, but just as exciting. Lead single and album opener ‘Illuminant’ offers an immediate nostalgia hit, swinging in on a riff that sounds almost exactly like ‘Delusional’ from the last album played backwards, but from there on in the album is reminiscent rather than retro, forging ever forward but with past glories in the rear-view mirror at all times. More textured and considered than its predecessors, the album benefits hugely from the technological advances in production available in 2017, giving the songs room to swell and burst in places where past efforts would have crashed and shattered, rarely shouting about its own brilliance but instead dwelling in the understated and restrained. Songs play out like Stewart Lee jokes, stretching a recurring motif to an agonising length, just seconds away from frustrating tedium, before climaxing at a breaking point of blessed relief, but moments of immediate joy do not make for immediate songs, and this measured approach begs for repeat listens, meaning songs take on more emotion, more depth, more weight with every play. At times, the sound is more reminiscent of Cave In or frontman Walter Schreifels’ post-Quicksand outfit Rival Schools than the Quicksand of old itself, forming a small part of what shines through the most – just how much the band have influenced others since their demise. Whether through obvious contemporaries such as Deftones, with whom they share a bassist, or more leftfield disciples like Death From Above, whose sound owes a huge amount to a song like ‘Normal Love’, the ripples of those lurching guitar lines, driving drums and Schreifels’ unmistakable, obtuse vocals can be felt in any act of the last 20 years that has made a career writing songs that are slightly off-centre. Conversely, the essence of Soundgarden can be heard in the veins of ‘Fire This Time’ and ‘Under The Screw’, bringing those grunge influences full circle too. An outstanding return from one of the 90s’ most underrated bands, who have created that rarest of beasts: a reunion album that doesn’t tarnish a reputation, but surpasses it.
Categories: Album Reviews