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The Tangent - Down And Out In Paris And London CD (album) cover

DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON

The Tangent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.72 | 205 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

m2thek
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Down and Out In Paris and London is The Tangent's fifth release, and follows up the previous year's Not As Good As the Book. 2009's offering, while not a wondrous success, does have a lot of good moments that make it an enjoyable listen, but also has enough low spots that stop it from being an essential release.

Listeners familiar with The Tangent's work shouldn't be very surprised with the sound here. The music is listed here as Eclectic Prog, which is accurate, though it is also heavy on the symphonic side of things. The music is pretty dense, but with a clear distinction between the harmonic and melodic sections. It is also heavy on vocals, but offers a wide range of instruments which provide many entertaining moments. The instrumentation on Down and Out is one of the best things about it. There's a great variety of instruments here, and they're mostly used to good effect. Equipment listeners can hear include electric guitar, a few different keyboards, including piano, synthesizers and a little Mellotron, horns, and even some mallet instruments. Each of these is used pretty evenly, with a slight emphasis being on the keyboards. The mallets in particular provide a few really nice, driving harmony sections. The horns and synthesizers, although they are good most of the time, occasionally become quite abrasive, and create some of the worst moments on the album. The drums and bass are not terribly memorable, though they don't detract from any of the music.

The album starts off well enough with a good, but not monumental, epic. The beautifully clean guitar melody that opens this song, as well as the overture sounding section that follows, is one of the best moments on the entire album. Unfortunately, that's the most enjoyable passage the music has to offer for a long time. The epic hits all of the beats it has to, and is good about introducing and reiterating on melodies. The instrumental breaks are exciting, and provide a lot of different material. The song's not perfect, with a really vague and lazy story about a man's life (a lot of "the guy who" and "the girl who"), and no real lead up to the ending, which simply repeats the guitar melody from the beginning. The vocal sections of the song, as well of the entire album, aren't bad, but actually manage to be boring. Andy Tillison's voice isn't offensive, but it's not very good either. It also doesn't help that most of the instruments drop out once he starts singing. None of the vocals really push any song forward, and are always a low point in terms of quality and excitement in any song.

While the opening has its faults, it's the only one of the first three songs that is mostly enjoyable. The second song is plagued by incredibly annoying brass and synthesizer sounds whose only positive quality is that they don't stick around for the whole song. It's a relief once they're gone, and the next song has moved in the complete opposite direction. However, this relief doesn't last long, as the third song is made up of mostly long, boring and repetitive vocal sections. There's a great instrumental passage in the middle, but it ends just as quickly as it began, and the vocals come right back.

Luckily, after a mostly poor two tracks, the final two offer some of the most enjoyable music to be found here, and save the album from going into overall bad territory. The final song in particular is mostly instrumental, but when there are lyrics, there's actually an interesting harmony going on.

While there is little downright bad music apart from the second song, there is a glaring fault here: there are multiple, fairly lengthy passages of time where nothing musically interesting is happening. These are usually the lyric sections, which could have been saved by more vocal harmonies (though hopefully not more Tillison harmonizing with himself), a rise in fall in his singing intensity, or more interesting lyrical material. While it's easy to write an album off just for bad vocals, the instrumental sections on Down and Out are good, and are not completely offset by their lyrical counterpart.

The album's production quality is worth noting, as it's very clean. There are some pretty dense sections, but you can hear everything just fine. The album also comes in at under an hour, and considering its faults, is a very good thing. The saving grace to this album's mediocre parts is that there is always a good part around the corner. It's just a question of how long it will take to get there, and how long you're willing to wait. While not a great album, Down and Out In Paris and London does have a few great moments, which are unfortunately interspersed with very mediocre moments. It's worth a few listens if you can get your hands on it easily enough, but isn't one of 2009's best.

m2thek | 3/5 |

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