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The Urbane - Neon CD (album) cover

NEON

The Urbane

 

Crossover Prog

3.09 | 9 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars John Mitchell has left the Arena (but he'll be back)

The Urbane's main claim to fame is that they are led by Arena guitarist John Mitchell. Since Mitchell is now a key player in the Kino supergroup project, the future of the Urbane (if indeed it has one) is somewhat unclear.

Those expecting to hear Mitchell play soaring guitar solos similar to his magnificent work with Arena, should approach The Urbane with caution. The music here is generally straight ahead guitar rock, with little prog influence. It is far more Kino than Arena. That said, as the album develops so does the music, some of the later tracks being reasonably progressive.

There is a punk pop or power pop feel to several of the tracks, often with similarities to bands such as the Foo Fighters, "Aeroplanes" being particularly reminiscent of that band. Mitchell's guitar is always present, but any solos are kept brief, the vocals being dominant throughout. "Mary Jane" and "Try" are average punk pop songs, with little to distinguish them. Things improve markedly with the melodic pop rock of "Fading out" and "Neon" both of which have catchy choruses and strong melodies.

The prog elements develop on "Staring at the sun" which has a Porcupine Tree feel, and reach their peak on the final track "The tide". The guitar work on "The tide" has a similar feel to Genesis "Firth of fifth". It is hardly challenging technically, yet it has an atmospheric beauty and is enhanced by some effective key changes making it utterly compelling. This is easily the best track on the album.

Elsewhere, "Static" is enhanced by some effective female vocal backing by Barbara Wagner, while the longer "Immaculate" sees Mitchell's guitar work being afforded greater exposure.

In all, a slightly uneven album with some fine moments, and some rather average material.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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