Glaciers is straight ride music - there isn't one song on this album that won't have its listening experience improved by playing it in a car going nowhere in particular - and this, too, isn't a coincidence. The firm of Boerner, Baglio, Douglas & Nic have been playing and touring together in various guises for years, refreshing their curriculum at every opportunity. There is always groove and lilt and a slick, knowing humor in their music, but it is always carried and earned through powerful musicianship. Most importantly, there is always reach, always an expansion of their musical agenda through complex arrangements and broad compositional risks.
This has been true over a handful of albums from both The Hot At Nights and Nicolay independently, but never has their reach been as long as it is on Glaciers. There is a freedom to this album bordering on thematic, a sense of narrative pull that wants to take you somewhere as a movement. "Now The Coast Is Clear" and "Tell Me Something New" are both deceptively laconic songs, hinting at the sonic scope of the album to come, but without much in the way of bells or whistles. They rely solely on muscular songwriting here, with a tone that is vast. If landscapes could be made into soundscapes, the first three songs on Glaciers are Exhibits A-C. "The Current" gives us the shades of the softer side of Madhouse. Douglas' wind work carries the tune here, literally and figuratively, with a dense series of melodic glides that jump back and forth between a hopping jazz and something downright pastoral. "Behind Your Door" is the Tears for Fears jazz song you never heard but knew was out there the whole time.
The workouts on here bear particular attention. "Pioneer 11", "Saturn", and "To See You Again" rip through their arrangements, popping up here and there in the mix just when you think Glaciers is going to stick to using its inside voice. On these tracks the band has truly leveled up. These are not experiments in Zappa-esque oddity or genre crams: these are grooves that have been wrung out for every color they contain, while managing to keep everything in perfect head-nodding lines. As an album mix goes, it's risky, but these musicians have always been daring. They have shown over and over again that they possess the chops and finishing moves to justify our faith in their leaps.