"Fuck." That's all I kept saying over and over again while watching these guys play, last night. Kicking off the Record Store Day festivities at a local shop, here in VA, these guys took the stage and changed the whole night. After getting a copy of the record, I sat down to review it, and I just couldn't. I had to listen through the album (2 songs clocking in at 25 minutes) 6 times in a row, before I "got it" and could actually bring myself to write about it. Just, fucking incredible. This is the most moving, powerful, potent post-rock album since GYBE!'s "Lift Your Skinny Fists..." It's a lofty claim; I'm making it.

"Presence" is the first track, or "movement," that plays somberly along, layered like a house built on the proverbial "rock." Throughout the movement, throughout time changes, there is the overwhelming sense of redemption (hence the name "Presence" or Fulfillment ). However, this sense of redemption or fulfillment is not a cheap kind, like religion, but more like a transcendent-yet-personal fulfillment. No words can really explain the feeling, though, which is what so, so many post-rock bands miss out on. Without the mood or feeling established by the song, it doesn't matter how instrumentally proficient or well-produced an album is (for example: Explosions In The Sky vs. This Will Destroy You). Shy, Low has all of the factors, though: from the low-end bass thumps that shake the listeners bones like tuning forks, to the delay-heavy leads that trill and tap away--inducing a sense of awe or, at least, sheer reverence. There's a real, true sense of enlightenment after hearing this song; a body-wide peace that remains with the listener... until "Absence" kicks in.

Goddamn. "Absence" is the second track, or the closing "movement," and it's the most unsettling, anxious, frantically apathetic post-rock song since the aforementioned GYBE! album. The bass on the track is absolutely mind-numbing, while the drums bring out insecurity and darkness with every rapid-fire snap of the snare. Changing times and melodies, the second part of the movement counterbalances the underlying darkness of the bass and drum with swooping guitar leads. Holy shit, then the crunch. The guitar tone on this track is the heaviest thing I've heard in post-rock, ever. Never reaching the lo-fi crunch that some bands use, this guitar tone is just executed perfectly: This makes "Lift Your Skinny Fists..." look like children playing around. The constant movement, however, is more emphasized on the audience this time; which is a brilliant change from the norm of post-rock. While the instruments caved-in during the last 3 minutes of the song, I found myself wondering where the movement had gone. then I realized my foot tapping and my body rocking back and forth. Yes. Shy, Low not only can move about as they please on this recording, they can make the listener move. Insane.

This makes my top 5 list of the last year, easily. This album, besides being a debut, is post-rock brilliance. It is intelligent, it is emotive, it is evocative... It's everything post-rock has been missing for the last 8-10 years. Fuck.