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Villebrad - Ampersand CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.15 | 15 ratings

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3 stars When my friend Nick from Prog-Sphere asked me to review this album, I thought Villebrad was another psych/space rock from the nowadays long-catalogue, however, I was actually surprised because it has nothing to do with it, instead, here I received a fresh and comfortable album where hints of progressive rock are blended with some alternative and even pop rock tunes. Well, this is the third studio album by Swedish band Villebrad, and it is named "Ampersand" which features ten compositions that make a total time of 49 minutes

It opens with "Sketchy Feelings", and believe me, since the very first seconds you will be understand why was I surprised. A vocoder opens the track and later strings and drums create a soft rhythm accompanied by a nice voice that reminds me of some 80s electronic pop bands, and also accompanied by some electronic elements used as background. "Liberation Day" continues with that soft sound, here I like the repetitive bass lines and the atmospheres keyboard created. There is also a female (I believe) voice singing at the same time as the lead singer. The song is nice, pretty, but with a predictable structure that does not change until the end.

When I listen to songs such as "Cloud Sleeping Buildings" I question where the progressive rock element is, and I answer to myself, in this case, the keyboards are the key, though it is evident that here the music is much closer to alternative rock or indie. The last couple of minutes are more emotional, sweet if you like this kind of music. "Dead Weight" uses vocoder once again (which I don't particularly love) and then the song begins to build up a structure. There are moments where it becomes more emotional and where the music let our imagination fly, the sound is actually easy to dig and enjoy.

"Split in two" starts with electronic noises that are very ad hoc for those indie bands, later keyboards, drums, bass and vocals join and create together a catchy but sweet song that little by little progresses, creating a much better and challenging sound while the seconds pass. It is nice to mention that if you have good headphones, then you will appreciate it better. "Another Worthless Phrase" has a basic structure and a 4/4 rhythm. The voice is cool, like Au4 meets A-ha, the guitars do their work making a soft sound while drums perfectly complement the music. Not bad, but not the best either.

"Inertia" starts very electronic with nice background and distant vocals. A minute later a cleaner sound appears and a repetitive but hypnotic rhythm is produced; the bass lines are pretty cool and the mood made is charming and friendly. It finishes with weird electronic noises. "No more Open Hands" continues with the gentle sound, a soft atmosphere and the alternative rock sound. Honestly, the progressive element is not what make this album memorable, but it does have it in some moments anyways, (not really in this track, though).

"Ampersand" happens to be the shortest composition of the album. It starts with a melancholic sound, keyboards as background and sorrowful distant guitars, half a minute later the other elements are added and the song explodes, creating an emotional passage. A nice instrumental passage. And in the other hand, "Harm" is the longest track reaching the seven minutes mark. This is a nice song, though I honestly expected more. What I liked was the addition of a saxophone while the other instruments were making that soft tune.

Well, being honest, this is a good album but not the best example of progressive rock, actually it would be the lightest side of prog rock, and much closer to other genres such as indie or alternative rock, however, I enjoyed it, but definitely not loved it. My final grade will be 2.5 stars, which will round up to three.

Enjoy it!

memowakeman | 3/5 |


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