Home Read Classic Album Review: The Spirit That Guides Us | The Sand, The...

Classic Album Review: The Spirit That Guides Us | The Sand, The Barrier

The enigmatic Europeans cultivate an air of mystery on this compelling amalgam.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


The Spirit That Guides Us understand the value of mystery.

They refuse to reveal the names or biographical details of group members, and aside from admitting to being a “European collective,” won’t even reveal where they live or precisely how many members are in the band. All of that makes their lives sound a lot more romantic and exciting than they probably are. That enigmatic approach continues on their album The Sand, The Barrier — the disc doesn’t contain any lyrics or recording information.

Nor do the tunes offer any concrete clues. Instead, these 11 songs offer a curiously compelling amalgam of styles and approaches — at various points, the band deliver the blowtorch guitars and shrieking vocals of emo, the textured soundscapes and spoken-word samples of post-rock, the shimmering lushness and arty melodicism of Radiohead, the spiky inensity and searing intricacy of post-hardcore, and even the hummable hooks and cheery choruses of indie-pop. Three years ago, when this album first came out in Europe, it was likely pretty groundbreaking. Now, not so much. Why they didn’t use a more recent work to introduce themselves is a mystery. And that, you have to suspect, is how they like it.