I’ll come right out and say that this album was very difficult for me to review. I’d honestly never heard of IT even though they consider themselves part of the new wave of prog that started in the 1990s along with Porcupine Tree and Nine Inch Nails, or at least that’s how they put it. They’ve been relatively inactive for most of the time since then, however, and now they suddenly have released their first album in almost a decade called “We’re All in This Together”. My feelings about the album are decidedly mixed, though.
IT, as I said, has been around since the 90s. The UK-based band consists of Nick Jackson on guitar and vocals, Andy Rowberry on lead guitar, James Hawkins on bass, Ryan McCaffrey on keys, and Will Chism on drums. Their decade of origin definitely still affects their overall sound, too. They really do have a bit of that 90s brashness and alternative style that we all know; call it “grunge”, if you want. In particular, I hear a little of Alice in Chains in their sound, especially on “Voices”. Porcupine Tree is also a similar sound, though I wouldn’t call it an influence. Many of their songs also seem influenced by the likes of Roger Waters, but not just in the angry social commentary (more on that in moment): There is this sense that the rasher, more surreal side of Pink Floyd is definitely an influence here.
What all this means is that the band plays a hardened, heavy prog style of rock. Their sound is heavy on guitars that seem to have extra oomph and edge in the mix, though there are plenty of keys and other instruments that come in at the right moments, too. The band displays a wonderful contrast between these coarse guitars (there are solos, too) with lots of distortion and the sweeping and sometimes subtle keyboard swaths. There is plenty of piano throughout the album, too, that comes across as haunting and sometimes wistful.
It’s not just this style, though, that reminds me of the 90s: The band’s general attitude smacks of flipping everyone the bird for no reason at all, and that’s probably the most difficult thing for me to deal with on this album. Even the way these guys dress screams 90s alternative to me. It’s almost “punk” in a way, and I honestly dislike that general approach. That’s just me, though.
In connection with that attitude, the album seems to be a social commentary on the powers-that-be and the greed and lust for control that are inherent in their kind, and also the results of all this on the working person and the next generation. The lyrics casually suggest revolution and so on, and we’ve heard it all before, so it’s not really all that riveting. Even though most of what they are saying is completely true, it’s never really that interesting to hear.
What makes this album so difficult to review, then, is that the music is actually pretty good. Songs like “Power” and “Gamble the Dream” have plenty of this alternative/punk attitude, but the instrumentation and choruses are super solid and loud. Other songs, like “The Working Man” and “The Path of Least Resistance”, are more melodious and downright beautiful. The last few songs on the album start to get this surreal quality to them as the thoughts of revolution build to a climax, but it all still works so well and will have you bobbing your head in rhythm.
So, what do you do with an album that feels like a cheese grater to the knees in its over the top political content, but still manages to be an enjoyable experience that gets stuck in your head? “Power” is a perfect example of a song that is loud and over the top; but, dude, does it rock. My favorite songs on the album are definitely “The Working Man” for its beautiful chorus, “Last Chance” for its classy feel, “The Path of Least Resistance” for being smooth as butter, and “Revolution” for getting stuck in my head all the time.
Overall, “We’re All in This Together” is a solid album with catchy songs and some great guitar work. The overall tone of the album isn’t my favorite thing, though I’m sure others will enjoy it. In the end, I do hope to hear more from IT, and I hope they don’t take another decade to release another album since they are obviously a very talented group of musicians.