CONSTANTS- ‘Devotion’

Constants' 'Devotion' cover art

Constants didn’t exactly go out with a bang.

After four records of increasingly sturdy post-rock, the band employed a repetitive dream pop sound for 2012’s ‘Pasiflora’ full-length and seemed to fade away. They certainly became less of a concern for main man Will Benoit, who moved into the producer’s chair for the likes of Caspian, Junius, and believe it or not, Ellie Goulding, before recently restoking his creative fire in SOM.

It’s perhaps fitting then, that ‘Devotion’ is only a slight return.

Yes, the Boston-based outfit are unexpectedly back after almost a decade of silence but this record features only one brand new song. Fortunately, it’s a doozy. The all-capped ‘ENDS’ is the band at their best, mixing a wicked riff and spidery guitars with a brilliant bass tone and Benoit’s almost whispered vocals. But where the earliest Constants output felt satisfyingly weathered and worn, here there are beams of light and room to breathe, and the empty spaces and restraint on show are just as impressive as the crunching crescendos. Immediate comparisons aren’t to contemporary post-rock acts but genre pioneers like Jesu and Nadja.

If Constants can conjure up a whole full-length of this quality, it’ll be powerful, essential stuff.

Elsewhere ‘Devotion’ collects old B-sides and remixes of varying value. The band’s take on Type O Negative’s ‘Love You to Death’ is oddly compelling, a buzzing, pulsing variation of ‘Those Who Came Before’ from 2009’s high-water mark, ‘The Foundation, the Machine, the Ascension’, is more curious than crucial, but the best of the bunch might be a version of The Sunny Day Real Estate’s ‘One’ that turns the almost-anthemic original into something that sounds like it’s floating among the stars or crashing to earth in flames, or maybe both at the same time.

‘Devotion’ is unlikely to inspire feelings to exactly match its title then, but the ‘ENDS’ here could easily be a new beginning.

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