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Review: 'Pennies By The Pound'

-  Label: 'Lilith Records/Bandcamp'
-  Genre: 'Post-Rock' -  Release Date: '7.4.23.'

Our Rating:
When the press release opens by stating "If you ever were a fan of Steven Wilson, Marillion, Rush, Porcupine Tree, Genesis or Jethro Tull, you're in for a treat." I know I'm about to review an album that I'm likely to hate, being the opposite of the music, I listen too. The first time I tried listening to the album, in preparation to review it, I had to play it in 4 parts to get through it all, this album is heavy going if you're not a prog head. I'll be as kind as I can to the incredibly good musicians involved Pennies By The Pound who are led by Johannes Suistaval and Vesa Ranta along with Tommi Laaksonen and Alexander Meaney, the album was mixed by Mark Gardener from Ride and produced by Rauli Eskolin in Helsinki.

The Album opens with Liminal Ennui, I know that's the place I'm entering, an album full of widdly guitars, that are widdling long before any vocals arrive, as the first semi classical passage has to be played first, this song builds its own myopic path, through the northern reaches of the wilderness of music I would never choose to listen to, if I wasn't reviewing it. Guitars attack with rat tat at tat drum punctuation this tale unfolds.

Thus Spoke The Master a song about submission, sublimation to the will of others, over fairy tale in the wilderness backing, echoes through the walls, multiple shifts, changes, cheese crunch guitars, fighting hateful ignorance with synths rising against your patience running out, at the preposterous over the top music, that ends with the amps expiring as the last 20 seconds of this song might be my favorite part of the album.

Memories Of A Glorious Future is a classical piano interlude of quite some beauty, well worth hearing. Then we return to the madness of I Saw Her Dancing as she wants to dance with all your past lives, the bits with the sinuous bass and tribal style drums would make a good sample, as this gets lost in a miasma of 35 ideas too many in one song.

Whispers Beneath The Willow Trees opens like the intro to a child's fairy tale, gently leading you down by that willow tree, the rising strings that surround the main widdly solo are lushly beautiful to crawl out of sight too, sniffing at the air for spices intriguing you.

The End Times the earlier single is a surprising detour into 80's synth Pop that sort of feels like Red Box with a Nik Kershaw influence, reined in a bit the drumming is quite electro dance friendly.

Burning Wish was the first single on the album, I think I got it right first time, Burning Wish has the sort of episodic intro and general sound that reminds me of John Lawton and Diana Express, but with a slightly more Modern prog rock sound than that, it seems to wander all over the place, they have thrown every element they can think of at it, for my not particularly prog loving ears this has a few elements to many.

One Bitter Kiss opens acoustically, gently while things are still going well, before the sorrow filled vocals arrive to explain everything that's gone wrong, asking why she stayed, deep thoughtful music, exploratory guitar shards, extremely restrained bass line, before the confession he'd spent years inflicting her with prog albums, insisting she can recite every note of Tales Of Topographic Oceans while he wonders why she only kissed him once.

Concrete And Condescension is an almost medieval guitar fugue. Before the album concludes in suitably monumentally building fashion with the title song Nothingside that is in places a quite sweet overblown love song, that needs a big shoulder padded guy playing his guitar in a dry ice suffused landscape, as a couple of big haired women are walking away from him, as well as the singer who pleads for them to stay, remember the good times they once had together. Then as he tells us it's about to end this listener thinks it can't end soon enough, but of course it needs to get properly over the top with widdly keyboards that give Dream Theatre a run for the money first, before the fade out that seems like a Gary Moore tribute.

Find out more at https://penniesbythepound.bandcamp.com/album/nothingside https://www.facebook.com/penniesbythepound

  author: simonovitch

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