This album is a spectacular gamble: two 15-minute alternative-country operettas of heartbreak autopsy, written in whiplash sequences of hope, breakdown and fragile resolution and scored with twang and bluegrass-style harmonies. It's as if Jeff Tweedy was writing for Wilco while still in Uncle Tupelo, with opera on his mind and a stopwatch in his hand. Nick Shattell is a direct composer ("There’s no God where I've gone/There's no saints where I’ve been"), and the band brakes and bolts with earthy aplomb. Not an Airplane have made other records, but this one is so bold and accomplished, it feels like a debut.
Listen to "Speak In":
• Photos: Random Notes