The Books – The Way Out

Thrill Jockey

A five-year break from recording hasn’t dulled The Books’ creative edge. The Way Out finds the band still operating on its own plane combining spoken-word samples and a hodgepodge of other sounds into a sublime genre-bending sprawl.

Opener “Group Autogenics I” starts on a friendly enough note with a string of surreal segments from self-help cassettes and an appropriately new-age backing track. It doesn’t take long for a new-found restlessness to take root though and subsequent tracks see the band embracing abrasive synth tones (“I Am Who I Am”) disjointed percussion (“A Cold Freezin’ Night”) Squarepusher-style space funk (“I Didn’t Know That”) and even relatively straightforward songwriting (“We Bought the Flood” and the mathematical ode “Beautiful People”). It isn’t immediately clear what binds the disparate sounds together — it may just be sheer force of will — but the album coheres almost despite itself.

Although it contains some of the band’s most “pop” moments The Way Out can be downright inaccessible in parts. If you can find your way in though The Books’ world is an easy one to get lost in.