Play Again presents us a band that has kept the ability to create emotionally rich melodies and hooks, that are sometimes light as a feather, other times heavier and more intense. And this they can achieve like few contemporary bands. But they have also decided to start exploring other venues, experimenting new ways and new formulas. The combination of these two main characteristics result in an excellent album that states this band as an already secure name in the new wave of melodic progressive rock, and raises my expectations for what is still to come.
The opening track, an instrumental one, mixes spacey sounds with tense (distorted) guitar passages, approaching the bands sound to that of late 90’s Porcupine Tree Pink Floydish interpretations.
Tomorrow Birds Will Sing clearly demonstrates the most melodic and melancholic side of the band. Here the band further develops the main direction that was present in their debut album, by combining a true sense of melodic beauty (like Sham Rain) with a grieving and deeply emotional singing and delayed guitar soloing that draws them closer to mid term Anathema. Yet all sounds truly personal and the aforementioned bands serve only as figurative examples.
Wave on a Soul furthers on the feel already demonstrated in the previous track. This song is like a more electric version of Jeremie’s side project Stereoscope. The Cello lines fit like a glove in the harmony created, enlightening even further an already beautiful song.
Not Yet is a track that fully displays the mixing of what consisted in this bands musicality in And Life Goes On… and some new paths they are exploring. The middle section, a bucholic bridge, is very well accomplished, separating into two parts an heavier emotional musicality.
True new experimentation is set on the controls when The Great Northern Hotel starts playing. The mood is totally different here. There is a sort of spacey jazzy mood, first well disguised behind the tired/grieving/slightly despair singing, and then totally shown in the middle of the track. This surprising track is something that must be heard some times before you really start getting the grip of it. Then it becomes one of your favorites in the album…
The level of novelty continues with Room for Everyone, has the band uses a fully emotional declamation, taken from Charlie Chaplin’s The Dictator upon an almost minimalist spacey loop melody, with slight shifts. Interesting, at the least.
Garden of Delights has some of the heavier passages in this album. This is a track that sets the band into pure alternative paths which is something that is also used in 1(3bute)2. Again, the singing is searching new ways of interpretation. In fact that is one of the things I find great in this album: the singing is not as static and stylized as in the first album. It keeps altering its approach according to the sonic experimentations of the band. This
After a sequence of really different tracks, To Pink from Blue returns the sound to the same landscapes as the opening track. Only this time there are sung parts, but the Floydian reminiscences are there, disguised with heavier guitars and well thought dynamics. Square-Circle is an instrumental symphonic track, close to a neo-classic notturno. Surprising, and very rewarding break indeed.
The closing Happy End is a rock ballad with a brain. While dwelling on the many times used structure of a ballad, this track features a neo-classic section, with violin accompanied by piano, then a thoughtful guitar soloing and finally a conjugation of all instruments in a rockier passage enriched by a violin solo. A great way to close the album.
Overall, this is a lively, emotional and rewarding album that sounds both easy-listening and attention-grabber. There is a lot going on underneath a shell of apparent uncompromising simplicity, which makes the album a swell work to be slowly discovered in several listens. And despite sounding non-complex and sometimes only standing in the border of progressive rock, it is to my likes a fantastic audition experience. I highly recommend it!