Two thousand twenty continues to be the year of returns as classic bands come surging back with new music. Most people probably thought that they would never again hear music from Pure Reason Revolution, but here we are with a new album called “Eupnea”, which releases through Inside Out Music on April 3rd. Here’s the kicker: this album is basically a masterpiece.
PRR originated in the UK, though it seems that the band members are dispersed throughout Europe now. The band formed back in 2003, made three albums, and then disbanded. There was no hint that they would be back, especially with some of them starting new musical projects, until 2018 when they were announced as co-headliners for the Midsummer Prog Festival for 2019. That was quite a surprise, and this album is even more so.
Only two members of the original band have officially returned. That would be Jon Courtney on vocals, guitars, and keyboards; and Chloë Alper on vocals, bass guitars, and keyboards. The band’s former guitarist, Greg Jong, did collaborate on three of the six songs on this record, as well.
PRR has always been known for their modern, accessible sound that is still concretely progressive. They seem to appeal to fans of prog rock, both new and old. While the band did experiment with electronica on their last two albums, “Eupnea” sounds quite a bit more like their debut, “The Dark Third”. That means that this album is powerful, smooth, and unyielding progressive rock that winds and vibrates with sheer force, with the most noticeable aspect being Jon and Chloë’s stunning vocal harmonies.
One thing that immediately grabbed my attention is the groovy, yet intensely raw sound of the album. The guitars power forward full tilt, almost rashly or frantically. They almost make you feel like they are about to plunge right off a cliff, and your brain willing goes along with them. Needless to say, the guitar work here, along with the bold bass, is incredibly strong. That said, the keys are the perfect counterbalance. Utilizing tones from various eras of music, the band injects keys into the mix with maturity and precision. Worthy also of mention are the beautiful, mesmerizing vocal harmonies. What results, then, is a sound that feels untamed, yet desperately melodic and beautiful. It’s like the bridling of an wild beast that only lasts for six songs, and then the vivid beast breaks free once again.
The band released two singles, “New Obsession” and “Silent Genesis”. The former is perhaps the weakest song on the album, still being a brilliant beginning, and calling it “weak” is basically a joke. It’s a great song, and I specifically noticed the supremely well-written lyrics on it. Perhaps “New Obsession” feels slightly weaker because “Silent Genesis” is as amazing as singles come. It has a bluesy slowburn vibe to it at first, but when the full guitars come into the mix, the song rockets off of its pedestal with sheer undomesticated fury. The last few minutes get heavier and brasher, and you feel like you never want it to end.
Without talking about every song on the album, I believe “Ghosts & Typhoons” and the title track specifically deserve to be highlighted. “Ghosts & Typhoons” is my favorite song on the album, without a doubt. Like its name, it feels spectral and atmospheric, but a storm of guitars is ever waiting to unleash its power. And, wow, do the guitars impress here. They come gushing forth with climactic and unchecked strength, but leave room for a great chorus. This will certainly be one of my favorite songs of the year.
The title track, “Eupnea”, is almost as good, though. “Eupnea” refers to normal, controlled breathing, which almost feels ironic in the midst of the musical chaos on this album. Perhaps it is sage advice on how to weather the musical storm with grace and comprehension. Anyways, the song is 13 minutes in length, and every second of it rocks. It feels off kilter and almost unnatural at first, but then a sweet interlude beckons our ears until the vicious guitars come pouring forth, and the song continually builds and builds to a heavy, orchestral ending. Like many of the songs, you never want it to end, especially since it is the final track.
“Eupnea” is a triumphant return for a band I thought we’d never see again. While the album sounds more like the band’s debut, it also pushes boundaries and genres to their limits, never offering filler or mediocrity. This feels like an album that will sound just as fresh in twenty years as it does right now; and this vivid, violent beast is worthy of your time.
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