It’s a cliché to say that there’s an old Chinese curse that wishes that the recipient lives in interesting times, and on a few occasions over the last year or two, The Reasoning must have wondered who must have aimed that particular curse at them. Line-up upheavals, including the tragic disappearance of guitarist Owain Roberts, interspersed with some superb live shows and the prize of a record deal with Esoteric Antenna, they must be hoping that the next few months gives them a chance to stabilise and take full advantage of the opportunities that will be coming their way over the next few months.
This EP includes four songs from the band’s writing sessions over the last year or so, and each of the band members at the time had a hand in the writing. Originally intended as a download-only release, it will be the last band release on their own label, Comet Music, before the new album is released by Esoteric Antenna, which makes it a significant release in itself, but it’s also a very poignant one as these songs are the last to feature Owain Roberts. As a result, it would be easy, but very wrong, to read far more into these songs than was intended, so after pausing to appreciate Richard Pocock’s very Hipgnosis-like cover, it’s best to let the music speak for itself.
Opener ‘One By One’, has been in the live set for several months now, and, live, seemed a more straight ahead number at first, but the recorded version is a far more thoughtful and nuanced piece, at least until it bursts into its buoyant chorus. Second track ‘Apophenia’ is for me the highlight of the CD, starting off gently with Rachel Cohen’s subtly accusing lyrics over Tony Turrell’s piano before the rest of the band introduce themselves ready for another superb chorus. Not only is this a great song, but in the way it’s put together, with the gradual introduction of the full band before a brilliant solo from Owain Roberts, for me this is already one the best things the band have ever done. (To save you looking it up, ‘apophenia’ is loosely defined as the need to see patterns in random series of events or information).
Third song, ‘Pale Criminal’ has another great guitar solo and yet more very pointed lyrics. In some ways it’s more of a reminder of the band’s early days than the other tracks and yet is as commercial as anything they’ve done in the past, closer to melodic than progressive rock, but closer ‘21 Grams’ has so much going on, it would serve perfectly well as an instrumental, even without Rachel Cohen’s customary thought provoking lyrics. A brief burst of electronica to open, before some romantic opening verses well stocked with yearning before the band comes in on some excellently chugging riffs and some gloriously proggy keyboards. 21 grams, by the way, being the weight of the human soul as calculated by some Edwardian scientists.
For all that the band have had to cope with since releasing their last full album, this EP is definitely not the sound of a band struggling to re-establish or define itself. There’s so much to enjoy and admire here, from the quality of the writing and the playing, the way the songs have been arranged and the excellent production by Matt Cohen, it can only sharpen the appetite for what the new album, due out in September, has to offer.