If you've been following Fly Pan Am since the beginning, you know that the group isn't one to want to repeat themselves very much. On their debut, they created dense and long sheets of droning post rock music before paring it down on the following EP and finally picking up the pace and at the same time partially destroying their sound on Ceux Qui Inventent N'ont Jamais Vecu? N'Ecoutez Pas is the newest effort from the group and they have again added some new wrinkles to their sound to keep things interesting.
Although the theme of self-sabotage has carried over from their last release, it's definitely not as blatant as on their previous effort. Instead, the group has handed off some of their work to electronic musicians Christof Migone and Tim Hecker to break down in a more digital way as more full-on songs are framed with shorter textural pieces that combine noise, electronic decay, music, and found sound. The group has even brought in some vocals on this release, although they're seemingly more for textural additions than anything else (good luck deciphering them unless you speak good French).
Changes are evident from the attacking nature of the very opening track, and it's also during this track that glitchy filters slip oh-so-quietly into the mix as the track just sort of bangs along to a conclusion. It's after the second shorter track that the gropu really lets loose with one of their best songs, though. "Autant Zig-Zag" arrives as the 3 track on the disc and runs over 11 minutes as it starts out with a blast of guitars and drives forward relentlessly until it reaches a triumphant mid-section with shouted vocals, a vibrant bassline, and arm-pumping fervor. Even then, though, it's not done as the whole track folds in on itself and then slowly unwinds as something completely different and yet totally interesting.
Although the more textural (and shorter) bridging tracks are an interesting way to hold the album together, they unfortunately rarely add much to the listening experience. Considering the group is at their aggressive, though, they do make for slight cooldowns before another driving rhythm takes place. "Pas Á Pas" is another fast attack that weaves through several sections in just 5 minutes and again finds the group letting loose with a choral ending that is easily one of the most upbeat things they've ever done. Heck, "Tres Tres 'Retro'" even has a bit of dancepunk in it, but it's of the most warped and demented variety, building with such an off-kilter dense textural quality that it would scare most of the DFA lovers off. As the disc closes out with "Le Faux Pas Aimer Vous," it even sounds like they enlisted a chorus of cheerleaders to wail away as the guitars give a final gasp and some random piano keys are banged on. So bizarre, but so rewarding. Fly Pan Am has never molded themselves to conventions, and although N'Ecoutez Pas doesn't work all the time, it's still more interesting than a good portion of the stuff you'll hear this year.