Their first album Cautionary Tales For The Brave announced Pure Reason Revolution as a band we should sit up and take notice of. Showcasing a big rock sound in progressive structures, its ambition was big; the message strongly (and strangely) melodic, while the lyrics were difficult to interpret yet easy to use for personal gain.
Now, some three and a half years on, the band follow up with an opus that switches on the drum machine, throws an analogue synth or two high up the mix and sets its course nearer to the centre of the dance floor. In doing so it reminds the listener even more of the celebrated Mansun debut Attack Of The Grey Lantern – but with its rhythmic eccentricities heavily accented.
If that makes you recoil in horror then stay with me, for there are some originally thrilling moments. When the guitars kick through Victorious Cupid they do so with an impressive conviction, the sighing, ELO-style vocals surfing the waves they create. And when Disconnect works its magic, the effect is uplifting.
Somehow the band mix accessible melodies and harmonies with more complex structures and rhythms, as if attempting to update progressive rock thinking for a generation influenced by acid house. Deus Ex Machina, pompous title and all, promises a Mars Volta improvisation fest, but actually ends up as a thickly harmonised blend of euphoric harmonies.
Where Pure Reason Revolution don’t quite measure up this time is in a certainty of structure. This is particularly evident in The Gloaming, where the momentum gained in early tracks is almost lost due to a vocal round that travels in admittedly blissful circles, though its electronic setting seems largely redundant, lacking the energy the band show elsewhere.
But there remains plenty to recommend Pure Reason Revolution on the strength of this record, even if they still have something left to prove. We should stick with them, as not many bands can match their musical ambition or freedom of expression. Provided we don’t have a three and a half year wait for their next album, then that should be the record to send them into orbit.