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A Lonely Crowd - User Hostile CD (album) cover

USER HOSTILE

A Lonely Crowd

 

Heavy Prog

3.92 | 27 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'User Hostile' - A Lonely Crowd (7/10)

The Australians in A Lonely Crowd has been receiving heavy acclaim since the release of this, their debut album. Furiously pairing the energy of metal and punk with the sophistication of classical, this band's ambition certainly warrants the recognition. Drawing many comparisons with the madmen in Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, A Lonely Crowd's approach to rock music is fermented with a penchant for the weird, and they're all the better for it. Fans of the avant would do well to check this out; "User Hostile" stands as one of the catchiest and enjoyable experimental albums I've heard in a while.

Like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and uneXpect (among others), A Lonely Crowd's sound blurs the line between a listener's instant gratification- something naturally aligned with pop music- and the depth that comes with doing something outside the box. Though few guitar riffs here spare themselves some sort of dissonance, and one look at Xen Pow's vocal melodies (herself a cross between uneXpect's Leilindel and Beach House's Victoria Legrand) are evidence to a band free themselves from many conventions of tone and scale even held dearly by much progressive rock. This is not to say that A Lonely Crowd have crafted something entirely unique- the influence of the aforementioned groups is readily apparent- but listeners should be prepared for something a little different.

"User Hostile" consists of sixteen tracks, ranging from an 'interlude-worthy' moment to a more involving seven minute stretch. In general however, listeners can expect songs that deceptively stick within the three or four minute range. Although these tracks can often sound like self-contained 'songs', A Lonely Crowd are never stopped from spreading their wings instrumentally; mind-bending time-signature experimentation, Xen's operatic acrobatics, and even a handful of flute cameos should feel commonplace by the time the album is over, which- despite the relative consistency- ultimately feels about ten minutes long. It would have been nice to see this band pursue some more epic songwriting, and while "Glass Eyes" is given over seven minutes to explore its warm soundscape, A Lonely Crowd rarely feels like they are songwriting so much as they are composing interesting ideas, and propping them up against each other. Perhaps besides the System Of A Down- like closing track "Skyscraper", A Lonely Crowd don't really get the impression of a song across within four minutes. The compositional integrity and quirky madness is here, but "User Hostile" lacks in the way of highlights.

Listening to A Lonely Crowd, I get the mental image of a talented band anxious to get their ideas out in the open. The result is something that goes for everything but the kitchen sink, and then returns to take the sink as insurance. As exciting as "User Hostile" is from an artistic perspective, A Lonely Crowd needs some work to consolidate and focus in their sound, but there are some wonderful things brewing here.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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