Departure time has arrived for Halifax's In-Flight Safety. While the album design for The Coast is Clear (the band's first full-length from 2006) was awash in Maritime blue and green, the cover of this new album (with artwork from former Coast art director Kate O'Connor) is inky black with pinkish-red strokes, drawing the eye to lonesome icons: a small house burns in the distance, the setting sun behind tall electric towers. The visuals go to the dominant theme of we are an empire, my dear: It's an unsafe, unstable world, so best to have someone at your side with whom to face it.
The two-of-us-against-the-world idea brings with it a challenge regarding tone. Hopefulness, warmth, even joy, arise, but can't cancel out the world-weariness, worry and outright fear. A balance must be struck. And In-Flight Safety strikes it. Apart from the arguably unnecessary gang vocals on a couple of tracks, the band seems to realize its strength is in evoking mood rather than provoking reaction with only bigger, soaring melodies. This is most evident on "crash/land," which opens with a plainchant piano intro (recalling the past glory of the UK's Talk Talk or, more recently, Tindersticks), the rumble of "Big White Elephant," the haunting guitar melody of "amy racina" and the rhythmically imaginative "cloudHead." --Sean Flinn