Album Review: Pile’s “All Fiction” delivers on atmosphere and ambition

Courtesy Exploding in Sound Records

You don’t come across many bands like Pile. The trio has melded haunting soundscapes and indie-rock grit for 15 years, and it’s put to tremendous effect on their eighth studio album, “All Fiction,” out now on Exploding in Sound Records.

You can tell that great care went into capturing and placing this collection of songs, to where some feel almost like answers to what came before. Take the first track, “It Comes Closer,” and fourth track, “Link Arms.”

Both songs sneak in with an entrancing, menacing quiet. But where the opener surprises by adding beautiful orchestral composition, the latter song ratchets up the tension even more before letting loose a shotgun of fuzz and heavy drum grooves. Oh, and just when you thought you got the full picture? Those strings come sliding out from under a wave of synth.

With its ambiance-forward take on indie rock, I do think some listeners will find “All Fiction” a bit on the slow side. But one thing I’ll say for Pile: They’re not here to be overindulgent.

The band is able to create an impressive amount of movement and drama in each song without staying too long in one place. In fact, only one song clocks in at over 6 minutes, and it feels significantly shorter.

I also can’t end this review without talking about one of my favorite songs on the album, not because my favorite should be yours but because it’s still a surprise to me. “Blood” is simple. Vocals. Electric guitar. “Empty basement show” atmosphere. That’s it, and that’s all it needs, apparently, because I keep coming back to it over and over.

I think the same reason I love “Blood” is the same reason I like “All Fiction” so much as a whole. It’s honest. It’s expressive. It’s just plain good.


Track List:
1. It Comes Closer
2. Loops
3. Gardening Hours
4. Link Arms
5. Blood
6. Lowered Rainbow
7. Forgetting
8. Poisons
9. Nude with a Suitcase
10. Neon Gray

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