Progressive music is a strange beast sometimes. Bands will disappear and resurface years later unexpectedly. You never know if the bands are gone for good, or if they are just fine tuning their muse. A few years back, I stumbled upon a prog rock band that sounded quite unique. inFictions was their name, and their style grabbed me instantly, but I thought they were long gone They are back now with a brand new album called “Vanity Project”, which released on August 6th.
The band originally debuted with 2012’s “Maps of Revenge and Forgiveness”, which was one of my favorite albums that year. The band includes Ed Cartledge on vocals, guitars, percussion, accordion, and synths; Tom Chaffer on guitars; Gareth Hughes on bass and percussion; and James Fosberry on drums, percussion, and lap steel. This album also features Hannah Cartledge on flute, Ben Eckersley on cello, Nick Milne on muted trumpet, Nick Cox on piano, Naomi Fearon on viola, and Kat Hurdley and Olivia Shotton on violin. There is quite a bit going on here, if you didn’t get that already.
inFictions has a musical style that is somewhat difficult to describe. They offer progressive rock with some very strong indie rock tendencies, which would obviously bring comparisons to The Dear Hunter. I would point out that inFictions sounds far more psychedelic than that, as their music often carries this dreamy, evocative strain to it. Their music often floats and hovers with a mysterious grace, but there are definitely moments of explosive rock with thunderous results. Their music is all about the overall experience and mood.
“Vanity Project” as a whole flows so very well. The center piece songs are connected with a couple shorter instrumentals, and the band has mastered their technique of suspended, slow burning songs that launch themselves into the stratosphere. The lyrics, too, are very well written and intelligent, which adds a certain personality and weight to the whole album.
I have a few favorites on the album. First, the instrumental tracks, “Deadzones” and “Freshwater” are both awesome. “Deadzones” is an ambient instrumental track with this wonderful slow burn to it, but then it detonates with enthusiasm and hope near the end. “Freshwater” is bright, hopeful, and nostalgic; almost like it should be familiar, but it really isn’t.
The songs with Ed’s vocals are beautiful, to say the least. He has a very expressive voice that evokes so much through very carefully chosen words. Some of the hooks he lands could really only be done by his unique voice. He’s one of those voices that you know instantly when you hear it.
My favorite of these tracks are “Redlist”, “Desrted”, and “The Weight of Hurricanes/The Upward-Sloping Path”. “Redlist” is an absolutely beautiful song with orchestration and strong vocals. “Desrted” is one of those tracks that just carries you away immediately. The awesome drumbeat and bass groove really whisk me away, but the overall intensity is what really makes this song special. Lastly, “The Weight of Hurricanes/The Upward-Sloping Path” is a perfect representation of inFictions and their dramatic sound. The melodic gravity and thick atmosphere of this track effortlessly end an album that feels so good as I digest it.
I would say, without a doubt, that inFicitons has bested their debut. This album is more cohesive and possibly more accessible. “Vanity Project”, however, retains the atmosphere and drama of their first outing and that is exactly what I wanted. Hopefully, we will hear more from them sooner rather than later.
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