Ana Never - Small YearsHow do you define great? This is a question that has been circulating around and around in my head like an airplane waiting to land.

For me, great has longevity … it is something that lasts the test of time.

It is also something that you can and do come back to … again and again.

For me, Gorecki‘s Third Symphony is a great piece of music. It has served me well over the years I have owned it. I keep coming back to it. It has become my friend.

These are the exact same feelings I have for “Small Years” by Ana Never – this is a great piece of music … something I have returned to again and again over the week or so that I have had it to consume.

What it packs into the four tracks and the 76 minutes that it is on is truly remarkable. To say this is one of the best post-rock albums I have heard in all my days listening to music, let alone post-rock music, would not be an understatement.

Their understanding of drone … their understanding of musicality … their understanding of melody and of all the things I hold precious in a genre of music I am deeply in love with … just takes my breath away. It is like this release is *the* archetypal post-rock album.

The opening track – ‘Future Wife’ – is simply stunning … like all future wives are, I guess. An epic of a track … clocking in at 26 minutes and 34 seconds … it moves and breathes like it is alive. There is so much energy and movement in the piece that it grabs my attention each and every time I listen to it. The way it slowly and surely builds is breathtaking … it exudes confidence. When the guitars bite around the 12 minute mark … wow … Ana Never have made me theirs!

This is not just the soundtrack to something beautiful … it is, in it’s very nature and essence, something beautiful.

This track alone is worth the purchase price … but that’s where this album stands out … it is only one of four tracks … and each of these tracks are wonderful in their own right.

Where ‘Future Wife’ has an epic grandeur about it … ‘Half way’ has more of an immediacy. It is denser and more melancholic … with some truly amazing guitars that create the layers of sound on which they have placed an utterly delightful yet haunting melody.

‘Gorgeous One’ – the third track on the album – lives up to its name. Slow, thoughtful and heartbreakingly melodic … this is one gorgeous track. One where the interplay between guitar and violin is simply perfect.

Ana Never’s use of sound dynamics is exemplary. The track builds slowly and yet I still find myself thrilled when, around the 4 minute mark, everything kicks off. Yes, I’ll admit to smiling as a loon each and every time this track plays. Which is fine, by the way, when you are on your own but not so good when you are listening to it on a packed commuter train. People tend to give you more room than you deserve when that happens.

16 minutes is not long enough for such beauty … but then truly great things are timeless insofar as they transcend time. This piece … like the album as a whole … transcends time. It doesn’t feel like the opus it is.

Don’t get me wrong … this isn’t a Ramones song. 1.2.3.4. then over. This is something more … something to be savoured … something to be treasured … something that comforts … something that welcomes … something that can be relied on … something that gets better with age like a worn pair of Levi’s with their unique patina.

The last track – ‘To Live For’ – is a stunner and that is saying something as it is the longest of the tracks … coming in at 28 minutes on the dot. It is also the rawest and noisiest of the tracks … and, as such, makes for a terrific end point … the remarkable culmination to a remarkable album.

The euphoria contained within this track is almost uncontainable … it threatens to burst out at any minute. It is palpable. The energy conveyed in this track is infectious. It picks you up and takes you with it. You cannot help but be moved.

And moved I am. This whole album is great … truly great. If I were important enough to be asked what I would take as my ’desert island discs’ this would be one of them … it is up there with Gorecki‘s Third in terms of shear enjoyment and lasting influence.

Yes … it is *that* good and, as such, I can only award it 10 out of 10. I cannot fault this record and know that it will be cherished for years in the years to come.

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