What is the sound of death and loss? Is it elegiac and muted or exultant and even upbeat? The great shoegazing duo Hammock meditate fervently on this question on Departure Songs, the just-released double-LP that marks their fifth proper collection. Over the course of nearly two hours, the answer comes forth as, well, both: Death is, of course, sad, but it can also be triumphant, a poignant testament of victory for those who believe the end is really a beginning. "(Tonight) We Burn Like Stars That Never Die" is a nod to the latter perspective in title and approach, a song that erupts with sonic jubilee from its inception. Elsewhere the record leans toward a more commonly produced emotional palette—melancholy, minor chord passages rife with the ache of grief and longing—though in no less striking a fashion. No matter the outlook, strings swell, guitars shiver, and the beauty of this whole mess is seen as naked and saintly as it has ever been.
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