For a band that defines itself as ‘post-hardcore,’ I’m uncertain that the members of Quicksand would want their new album (and first in 22 years) to be described as ‘delightful,’ but that’s what it is. It’s a delightful listen; it’s perfectly charming.
See, that’s the thing about post-hardcore—it’s never really as confrontational or intimidating as the name lets on. It can be loud, sure, or even aggressive, but underneath that rough exterior, it can be melodious and accessible.
Originally breaking up in 1995 following the release of their second LP, Quicksand tried reforming in 1997, but it was short lived.
Following the 1999 split, the members went on to pursue other projects (frontman Walter Schreifels formed Rival Schools in 2001; bassist Sergio Vega joined the Deftones in 2010.) Reuniting again in 2012 and subsequently touring in the years that followed, Interiors arrives after a somewhat lengthy gestation process, and it finds the band not so much ‘out of their element’ but, rather, attempting to navigate what it means to, not only be a rock band in the year 2017, but a rock band with so much history, returning after two decades of silence.
There’s a night and day difference between Interiors and the Quicksand’s first two albums.
While Sip and Manic Compression have a raw, unhinged sound to them, Interiors is the sound of a band that’s grown up—and the sound of a band knowing how to make the most of their time in a recording studio.
‘Hard rock’ records from the early 1990s have that trademark sound to them—not so much a ‘lo fi’ production aesthetic, but they are produced and mixed in such a way that removes the depth and richness that could have been present. You can hear it in the self-titled EP from Orange 9mm; you can hear it a little in Helmet’s major label debut Meantime; and you hear it on Manic Compression and Sip—things just wind up sounding a tad bit flat and a little tinny.
However, the way albums are recorded, produced, and mixed has evolved over the last two decades, and Interiors finds Quicksand walking the line between recapturing that original punk immediacy from their first incarnation with wanting to achieve a much larger and robust sound this time around, adding more depth into the mix. It also finds the band easing into a dynamic that is a little less rough around the edges—something that certainly comes with age—and throughout, you can hear slight echoes of Quicksand’s peers (Girls Against Boys comes to mind right away), as well as slight detours into both post-rock and space-rock.
Interiors is an album that doesn’t play its hand right away.
Spread across 12 tracks (two of which are instrumental segues)—the band slowly reveals the intelligence, and in a few places, humor, that is buried underneath the pummeling drums, the fuzzed out bass chugs, and snarling guitars.
Opening with the most straightforward material, Quicksand saves the slightly more esoteric elements for the second half. Along with probably not wanting to be described as a ‘charming’ or ‘delightful’ listen—‘pop sensibilities’ are something that aren’t usually closely associated with music like this. But it’s obvious that the band never loses those; Interiors’ catchiest, or at least, most hook-driven songs are often the ones that find the group straying the furthest from the ‘post-hardcore’ aesthetic.
The album begins with the strong double shot of “Illuminant” and “Under The Screw,” songs that set the general tone for what’s to come, but don’t necessarily dictate it, as they begin to dabble ever so slightly into more atmospherics with each subsequent song, like on one of the album’s stand out tracks, “Cosmonauts.”
Elsewhere, Quicksand find success in the near-Radiohead levels of dreamy guitar work on “Hyperion,” the post-punk sneer of “Fire This Time,” the herky-jerky guitar rhythm of “Sick Mind,” and in the album’s unassuming closing track “Normal Love.”
For longtime fans of Quicksand—specifically during their original run—Interiors can be taken one of two ways:
The first being seen as such a drastic departure (arriving two decades removed) that it may be a jarring listen, one that may wind up becoming a bit of a turn off; the second is that since it’s arriving two decades later, finding the band returning as ‘adults,’ as it were, is different, sure—but it’s also logical and expected growth and maturation while staying within the confines of ‘rock music.’
But for the casual listener, or someone who is unfamiliar with Quicksand’s legacy and canon, this is where I would say it’s a ‘delightful listen,’ or ‘charming.’ Taken as a whole, it’s a solid album from start to finish, with very little that drags down the pacing. But it’s also a ‘rock’ album—so there’s, like, nothing groundbreaking or profound here, nor should you expect there to be.
It’s not the kind of album that’s going to reduce you to tears. It’s rocks hard enough so that, while you’re listening, you’re like “Fuck yeah this is heavy duty,” but it’s also not obnoxious or irritating enough where you’re like “Holy shit this is awful why am I listening to this.”
When I was younger—like in my teenage years, and even into my early 20s, I used to listen to a lot of hard rock like this.
So even though it’s 2017 and this is a brand new album, listening to Interiors is a bit nostalgic for me, based on its genre alone. I’m now in my mid 30s, and my legitimate interest in a post-hardcore band is something of the past—just something I revisit from time to time, but never stay for very long.
Interior’s is worth a listen—it’s a well made, interesting hard rock record, released during a time when that is a rarity. Just how long you choose to stay with it, or take it with you through time as you age, is entirely up to you.
Interiors is out now on myriad formats, via Epitaph.
Kevin Krein is a Minnesota based writer, and has been operating the award winning music blog Anhedonic Headphones since January 2013. For nearly as long, he’s been contributing to Bearded Gentlemen; and for nearly as long, he wrote “The Bearded Life” column for the Southern Minn Scene magazine. He currently writes “The Column of Disquiet” for the recently launched Next Ten Words, and his writing has appeared on Spectrum Culture and in River Valley Woman.
He is a vegan, a huge jerk, and above all else, a cool rabbit dad.