"Exploring the Shadows" is the follow-up to the Trembling Blue Stars album "The Last Holy Writer" and in many ways is an extension of that particular release. This four song EP is half upbeat, driving electric pop, and half low-key, acoustic-based songs. As with "The Last Holy Writer" the best tracks, particularly the first two, are the ones where the band ups the tempo and lets things rock.
The first track, "Beautiful Blank," is probably the strongest. It is an easygoing pop tune with a driving tempo about a girl who will be anything you want, including "rich girl, poor girl, beggar girl, thief." Throughout the song, there are also nice touches of electronics along with psychedelic guitar flourishes. "As Easy As Being Alone" follows and is also quite good. This track combines great guitar and keyboard riffs to make for a complexly arranged, melancholy tune. The first track in the slower, more acoustic vein is "Outside Looking Elsewhere." This song benefits from electronic fluttering and bell sounds that help add some interesting tension to the background. For me, I think the key moment in the song is toward the end, when an organ bursts in for some added richness. Really, it sounded so good that it kind of made me wonder why it hadn't been playing all along. "Exploring the Shadows" ends with a short, sad acoustic piece called, "And Then Silence." A background drone moves throughout the song, with only spare instrumentals over the top. The song ends abruptly on the line, "Silence, nothing." Seriously, it sounds like they ran out of tape, which I suppose was the intended effect.
Altogether, this EP feels like a more cohesive affair than its predecessor, possibly because of the pairing of similar songs or possibly because of its brevity. Ultimately, as with "The Last Holy Writer," I wanted to hear the band explore more of its driving pop sound. In any event, this is still a decent outing from this band. 6/10 -- Matt Blackall (22 April, 2008)