Friday, May 11, 2007

Reviews:: The Selfish Gene The Grand Masquerade

It’s not too often you grab a CD from a deeply rooted prog band named after a controversial book about evolution (which for the record, three of the possible republican candidates don’t believe in) and hear pleasantly upbeat, light pop sounds with nice guitar work, but that’s exactly what the Selfish Gene does. The Great Masquerade is an Orwellian view of the false identity and deception present in today’s society, and even with the prog rocking undercurrents and serious, thought provoking lyrics, the songs fly by in a surprisingly light, enjoyable manner.

The record starts off with a simple guitar riff, and it remains throughout. The simple elements the band uses are combined in a vintage 70’s feel and help take the hard edge off the lyrics which I think is the key to the success of the record. All too often, when artists decide to make a political statement, the music follows suit, and you essentially feel like you are (at best) getting lectured, or (at worst) yelled at. By casing their thoughts in enjoyable, unpretentious sounds the Selfish Gene uses a slight smile, a shimmering gloss and a subtle roar to get their point across. The band floats freely into three-part harmonies and crunchy guitar blasts and you find yourself singing along to summery anthems about the frustration at the state of the world (Fist Fed Up). My grandmother always used to say that you catch more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar – and to be honest, I have no idea if it’s true– it that certainly holds true for the Selfish Gene.

The riffage on this record should appeal to any fans of ELO, herohill approved Genesis or (for the youngens) Spoon but the band really tries to put their own stamp on music. Sure it’s a guitar driven record, but the band uses a myriad of instruments to keep things moving and fresh (beautiful summery harmonies, the sublte acoustic layer on Idioum, the shockingly sparse acoustic arrangement on the album closer Wonderfall, or the piano and bouncing bass that attempts to balance the big, flaming guitar noodle of Evolver) and avoids the easy trap of trying to make every song overly complex. Sure they obviously spent a lot of time turning knobs in the studio, but the arrangements never crowd the mix.

There are some stumbling points on the record – the carnival feel and sped up tape nonsense at the end of Fox Hole or the almost glammy vibe of Bidding War – but for a band to tackle such an ambitious project, a few missteps are expected and easily looked past because the rest of the record is so damn solid. It’s a different sound with a band that has something to say. I’d suggest people listen up.

MP3:: Overboard

web site :: label :: more tracks

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Posted at 12:13 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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