How Strange, Innocence was recorded a year before Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, the eventual breakthrough for Austin's Explosions in the Sky. But this 2005 Temporary Residence release is the first many will hear of it, since the original pressing was only a few hundred CD-Rs. It's an interesting listen for fans of the group, as it incorporates the layered guitar melodies and deliberate volume shifts of later EITS work but unfolds with a brittle uncertainty that reveals the band's brief lifespan at the time. Sometimes it sounds like a recital, as if Chris Hrasky, Michael James, Munaf Rayani, and Mark T. Smith, having learned their parts painstakingly and over time, were debuting the songs for an audience of proud parents. In "A Song for Our Fathers," brittle electric guitar notes find the melody over brushed snare and a stoic bassline until the song locks into a louder but still lingering groove, like a sleepwalking Pixies, while "Time Stops" builds from a gentle stroll to a storm of crash cymbals, shadowing vintage Bedhead in the din. The songs here are long -- nothing's under five minutes -- and Explosions in the Sky overuse some of the same effects that give their material strength. "Magic Hours," for example, is only a preamble to "Time Stops," glimmering, then building, then exploding at the usual pace. But despite some predictability, How Strange, Innocence shows remarkable tact for a band that was so unseasoned during its recording. As the ambitious "Snow and Lights" proves, they were already hashing out the pacing issues, heroic scope, and striking melodic sense that would define later releases.