Benny and Josh Safdie are great at making audiences uncomfortable. I’ve read countless reviews about how their films are tense and unrelenting. This is true, but they somehow manage to remain enjoyable. With its neon tinge and oscillations between loudness and silence, Good Time feels like a faster, unhappier Drive. Robert Pattinson delivers a solid performance as a character we’re not intended to like by the end of the film.
Though less subtle and textured than Massive Attack’s previous albums, Heligoland is perhaps the duo’s most haunting work. The album’s hollow vocals are both unwelcoming and hypnotic; though the songs are rather long, the album’s entrancing atmosphere makes it feel as if they go by in an instant. Though Blue Lines and Mezzanine will likely remain Massive Attack’s definitive works, this brooding and tense album follows close behind in the duo’s discography.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s magnum opus is among the most respected post-rock albums of all time for good reason. At times it is glacially slow, and at other times it moves with an energy rarely heard in music. The crescendos are beautiful and the sparse vocals are haunting. Of the many apocalyptic post-rock albums out there, none loom quite as large as this one.
Jarring in tone and pace, The Lighthouse is a stark vision of a descent into delirium. Like The Witch, this is a film deeply fascinated with superstition. The film’s 4:3 aspect ratio and black-and-white cinematography are certainly more than nostalgic gimmicks, but its sounds are arguably more haunting than its images.
The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place is refreshingly succinct post-rock. As its title suggests, it’s optimistic—a departure from some of the more apocalyptic offerings that are frequently cited on “best of” lists. At times, it skirts close to the cliches of “inspirational soundscapes.” It is a remarkable achievement that the album does this without fully succumbing to those cliches.