I'd say the mark of a solid instrumental post-rock band is that it takes you on a cinematic journey, conjuring up vivid imagery through the power of effects pedal-induced atmospherics and sharp melodic arrangements. The fourth release from this Los Angeles duo executes this formula to a T. Case in point: El Ten Eleven's music has graced the soundtracks of two recent PBS documentaries.
Openers "Ya No" and "The Sycophants Are Coming! The Sycophants Are Coming!" kick things off with driving bass lines, hazy guitar notes and flowing rhythms, evoking images of hitting the road and getting out of Dodge for good. "Falling," in contrast, takes a morose route, like something that should've found a home in the dark romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer. "Cease and Persist" takes an altogether different approach, bringing to mind spur-of-the-moment dance parties, thanks to its tight drumming. It's this range in mood that's one of the album's biggest strengths.
The layers of looped guitar and bass throughout It's Still Like a Secret help this twosome sound like a five-piece. That means El Ten Eleven not only makes for a big sound, but also music tailor made for the big screen.
El Ten Eleven plays the Top Hat Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 9 PM, with Baths and Modality. $6/$5 advance at Ear Candy and online at brownpapertickets.com.