4 out of 5
Produced by: Steve Albini
Has it been awhile? It feels like it. Maybe it’s more that one doesn’t often hear bands so consistently rewarding as Valina. Which is absolutely by no means to say that there’s a dearth of excellent music out there, of all varieties, but many of those come with some baggage – comparisons to what came previously in a catalogue, or what peers are putting out – and then you have group’s like Valina, on whom you can rely to just be Valina, and to be excellent. Silkworm pulled this off as well. Interesting that both acts have a friendship with Steve Albini.
Anyhow, the group returns with an expansive, emotional EP – 4 tracks at almost 5+ minutes each and a four and a half minute closer is almost album length for some acts – that, again reliably, only slips up with some odd tonal shifts in sequencing this time coming from the poppy (albeit short) instrumental Jackson High Dive, which is a great mess of drums and riffs, but sticks out against the disc’s otherwise aggressive m.o. It also comes in the wake of Astronautism, another instrumental, but sort of the heart of the disc; pent up emotions built and released. To follow it with something short and sweet is weird.
But elsewise… goddamn. Dead Nobody finds the group in fine anarchic form, with a wonderfully skronky horn, and closer Road Song starts calmly, almost sweet, before getting its feathers ruffled in that particular Valina fashion of organized chaos. Albini’s production continues to make for an ideal pairing, the group’s lower register preference echoing loudly across eternity.
Valina is consistently great, and this was as good of a swan song as we could ask for.