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Big Big Train - English Electric (Part Two) CD (album) cover

ENGLISH ELECTRIC (PART TWO)

Big Big Train

 

Crossover Prog

4.13 | 497 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I think of Big Big Train in the same terms as I think of acts like Galahad or Final Conflict - groups who've been chugging along for years putting out albums which met with indifferent or mixed reviews, who decades into their career turn a corner and suddenly begin putting out startlingly good work. 2012 seems to have been a big year for bands in that position; Galahad, whilst they'd arguably already entered their golden years with Empires Never Last (or, for some, Year Zero), put out two remarkably good album which proved that this wasn't a fluke for them. Final Conflict put out Return of the Artisan, an absolutely fantastic release which stands head and shoulders over everything they'd previously done. And Big Big Train put out the first English Electric album, which built on the foundation of The Underfall Yard to project them right to the top rank of current prog.

It is only natural, then, to approach English Electric (Part Two) with a little trepidation. Was Part One a fluke, or have Big Big Train shifted over to the Masterpiece Line for the long haul?

As it stands, I find this sequel an absolutely fascinating followup to the original. Those who want more of the same may find themselves disappointed, or curiously pleased; although the general approach and thematic interests are much the same here as they were on the preceding album, there's a subtle twist added to the musical approach this time around which really brings out the range of instrumentation utilised by the band and which offers a more quiet and contemplative listen than the more boisterous Part One.

Like latter-day Marillion and a few others, Big Big Train have sussed out the secret which eludes a lot of bands: sometimes the best progressive results can come about by not going out of your way to be "progressive". Needless complexity is avoided, as are pointless callbacks to the innovations of past prog bands - for example, though close harmony vocals are deployed, the temptation to throw in a Gentle Giant twist here or there for the sake of it is resisted. Yes, David Longdon's vocals still sound like Genesis-era Peter Gabriel, but as with the preceding album there's no suggestion that he's straining to make the mimicry as close as he possibly can. In fact, the whole album sounds very relaxed and natural - Big Big Train ceasing to worry about their progressive credentials and just getting on with the business of being Big Big Train. As it turns out, that's a rather fine thing to be.

Warthur | 5/5 |

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