There have been few efforts to remodel the world of post-rock since Explosions in the Sky coated the genre with a glistening layer of pop and gave us the soundtrack to Texas football. This is not to say creativity within the genre is dead. The frigid mastery of Russian Circles or the precarious experimentation of This Will Destroy You prove otherwise. However, Saline is one of the first bands in a few years to truly explore the edge of post-rock, looking at the genre from the outside through a blurry shoegaze lens.
To be fair to the band and post-rock connoisseurs, Dumb, the Athens quartet’s debut EP, isn’t really a post-rock album. Instead, it is a decadent tasting menu of heartfelt vocals and explosive guitar which the band describes as “shoegrease.” Dumb was recorded live in the lobby of the University of Georgia’s college station WUOG and then overdubbed before the record was sent off for mastering. The result is chaotic and raw, but the drum clarity suffers, especially during the wild noisegasm of “Eye Level.”
The ideas on Dumb often sound like seeds, ideas which haven’t yet reached their full potential. “Snapping Pencils,” however, is overgrown in best possible way, bursting with the playful noisiness of Joanna Gruesome in the intro and echoing with spaced-out guitars reminiscent of early Modest Mouse throughout the rest of the song.
Maybe Saline aren’t the heirs to Slint’s throne. Debut EPs are rarely the best indicator for a band’s future work. But Saline’s ability to imbue post-rock with noise-pop elements in a manner which feels completely organic is both notable and addicting.