Intricate and reflective as well as gripping and raw, Source Tags & Codes marks ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's leap from the venerable indie imprint Merge to Interscope's major-label territory.
It's a seamless transition, mixing the sweeping, fearlessly anthemic qualities of their previous work with a newfound sheen that actually makes the music's earnest roughness stand out more.
Sculpted, gorgeous-yet-gritty melodies drive quintessentially AYWKUBTTOD epics like "Another Morning Stoner," "How Near, How Far," "Relative Ways," and the title track. But Source Tags & Codes isn't so much a more accessible version of the band's sound as it is a more streamlined one; the surging guitars on songs like "It Was There That I Saw You" are even more powerful for their economy.
Yet the album's more refined sound doesn't prevent the group from expanding and experimenting -- driven by a stomping rhythm and a raunchy riff, the dangerously sexy "Baudelaire" is the most straightforwardly "rawk" thing ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead has done to date, while "Days of Being Wild" and "Homage" mix old-school hardcore with sullen, dreamlike passages. The band hasn't forsaken its artiness, either, linking nearly every song with interludes of found sounds and adding strings, accordions, and other unique flourishes to the arrangements.
A driving, incredibly solid album, Source Tags & Codes proves just how much more the members of AYWKUBTTOD have to say -- they're just as combustible as they were on their debut, but now express themselves with a clarity that makes their intensity all the more breathtaking.