Tuesday 9 April 2024

Reach - Prophecy (2024)

Country: Sweden
Style: Alternative
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 29 Mar 2024
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Tiktok | YouTube

Reach have been around since 2012 but I'm not finding a heck of a lot of information about them. They hail from Stockholm and this is their fourth album, following The Promise of a Life in 2021. It came to me labelled as melodic hard rock and their Bandcamp page tags them alternative rock, but, only four songs in, I realised that labels and tags aren't really going to be particular helpful. They're all over the musical map and they're clearly happy about that.

Let me explain. The title track opens up the album as hard rock with a strong nineties alternative edge. It's entirely understandable why they supported H.E.A.T. on a couple of tours, but it's also a little heavy for that gig. However, as if hearing that note, Little Dreams is softer, more of a heavy pop approach that we could stretch to call melodic rock. It has a real bounce to it and the bass is a thing of joy. A Beautiful Life kicks off like a TV theme tune, only to launch into rock with the guitar pretending to be the drums for a while but then adding a grungy edge when it all bulks up.

But wait, as they say, there's more. In the second half of A Beautiful Life, there's a western vibe I might expect from an outlaw country rockabilly band that doesn't quite overwhelm the pop rock elements that could compare to a Cheap Trick. The end is almost steampunk in its look backwards into what could be taken for a harpsichord sound. Save the World kicks off with a playful guitar as if it's aiming to be a dance number and suddenly I'm thinking Stray Cats as a comparison.

It's a huge shift from those verses to the chorus that leaps right back into heavy arena pop, which isn't the end of it either, because then they go symphonic in the second half in a way that's mostly reminiscent of Queen. What does this band not do? Well, Queen could be seen as a key influence, though more for their musical chameleon act as for any particular moments, like that one, as it's a rarity. Perhaps the better general comparison would be The Darkness, acknowledging their own Queen connection, because Reach are clearly more modern than Queen and whoever handles the lead vocals likes dipping up into a falsetto just like Justin Hawkins.

Eventually I changed my tag to alternative for want of something to call this, but that's notably limited and shouldn't be seen as a be all end all to their sound. When I've reviewed the Darkness, I've gone with hard rock and that's just as fair. I could switch those and not mislead. And that's not to forget the funk in a song as hard rock as Psycho Violence, which is different to the Red Hot Chili Peppers funk that kicks off Who Knows. Just don't expect any song to sound like any other and you may really dig this. It'll certainly keep you on your toes. I haven't even got to Grand Finale yet, not the final song but another sonic leap into symphonic rock/metal. It's also another theatrical level above what's already been highly theatrical.

You'll notice that I haven't mentioned any band members yet and that's because I'm not sure who is actually in the band. Bandcamp states the music is credited to Ludvig Turner, Marcus Johansson and Soufian Anane, while Turner also wrote the lyrics, so I'm guessing he's the singer. Discogs has him as guitarist and vocalist, with Johansson on drums and Soufian Ma'Aoui on bass. I presume he is the same Soufiane as Anane. Others have been involved but I couldn't tell you if they're still in the band or if they ever were, so I'll stick to these three for now. More information would be very welcome.

I like this album because it's hard not to like this album. It's entirely schizophrenic, sure, but I'm a particular fan of albums that venture all over the musical map without ever sounding like a band has betrayed their roots or gone a step too far into something that just doesn't fit. Queen's Sheer Heart Attack and Saigon Kick's Water are firmly in my list of most frequently replayed albums and this feels a little more consistent than either. Just tread carefully if you try to label it.

As to highlights, that's a how long is a piece of string question, because it's what I'm listening to at the time you ask. Mama Mama is a stormer of an opening single, so that's potentially the best of many good places to start. I do like A Beautiful Life, Psycho Violence and Grand Finale too, so they should get a special mention too. But, ask me tomorrow, and I might go with three different ones instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment