Review by Paul Quinton
All albums are important and significant in the life of a band, no matter what the circumstances, but it’s fair to say that some can be regarded as genuine milestones, even game-changers, in that they’ll influence the whole future of the band. In view of what The Reasoning have gone through over the last two years, I think it’s fair to say that ‘Adventures In Neverland’ is going to be one of the most important in the band’s career. For a start, the personnel upheavals since the band’s last album, Adverse Camber, have seen the band slimmed down to a five-piece, and with a new guitarist, Keith Hawkins, to replace Owain Roberts. It’s also the band’s first full length release since signing a deal with the Esoteric Antenna label, so even without the personal issues, there is an awful lot riding on this album for the band.
So, back-story aside, what about the music? Opener ‘Hyperdrive’ is something of a statement of intent, as if the band are ready for a full-powered launch into the future. They sound like a band with something to prove, but this really couldn’t be any other band than The Reasoning with Rachel Cohen’s soaring, passionate vocals over backing that has so much going on, it’s really hard to take everything in on one listen. ‘Urgent’ and ‘fast and furious’ haven’t often been phrases used to describe the band, but this really sets out to almost forcibly grab the listener’s attention.
Some of the songs on the album have been played live for a while now, such as ‘The Omega Point’. Inspired by the novels of Scarlet Thomas, it references the band’s past work a little more than the opener, but even so it still sounds as if there’s a lot of pent-up energy in the band and there’s some fine soloing by Keith Hawkins and Tony Turrell on keys. Other highlights on the first few listens include ‘Stop The Clock’, with its extended intro almost making you assume the song is an instrumental, until Rachel comes in with the vocal, and there are some previously unheard folky influences that make ‘End of Days’ a particular treat. I should also mention ‘No Friend Of Mine’, a song about the perils of Facebook and Social Networking as a whole. It’s another song that has already been road tested live for several months and as soon as I heard it I thought it to be one of the best things the band has ever done, and I see no reason now to change that particular opinion.
Inevitably, there are some who will pore over the album and the lyrics in particular for any references to Owain Roberts, and I suspect ‘Threnody’ (Dictionary definition: ‘a poem, speech or song of lamentation, especially for the dead’) will get particular attention in this respect. I don’t intend to discuss that any further here, suffice to say it’s another very fine song, and it has to be said that throughout this album new boy Keith Hawkins sounds a real find, with some excellent work, including some very nice neo-classical links on ‘Stop The Clock’. Having said that, all the playing and indeed singing, on this record is absolutely out of the top draw. There are some albums you can make your mind up about fairly quickly, but each time I listen to Adventures In Neverland I hear something new to enjoy.
The recent Classic Rock Presents Prog Awards, where the band were nominated in the New Blood category, not only brought the legends of the genre into the mainstream spotlight, but also highlighted the absolute wealth of new talent that the scene in the UK can boast. By anybody’s standards, this is a very strong release from a band who more than one commentator has said are ready to break through to the next level, and this could well be the album to take them there.
Adventures In Neverland is now available from the band’s website and will be on general release from 24th September. The band is soon embarking on a joint headlining tour with Touchstone, which stops off at The Robin 2 in Bilston on 15th October.
8.5 out of 10
- The Omega Point
- The Glass Half
- Stop The Clock
- End Of Days
- No Friend Of Mine
- The Forest Of Hands and Teeth
- Adventures In Neverland