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Phideaux - The Great Leap CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.28 | 222 ratings

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3 stars I've had a tough time deciding whether to give this album a three or a four. Ultimately I decided to go with a three. In my mind it isn't able to live up to albums like Chupacabras and Number 7 which I would consider to be firm fours; never mind the triumph that is Doomsday Afternoon. The Great Leap is much more like Ghost Story than any of the other albums which I mentioned. It favours shorter song structures and generally less daring arrangements with the occasional glimpse of Phideaux's more grandiose progressive tendencies. All said none of this makes the Great Leap a bad album, simply not a great one. So let's break it down.

The Great Leap is the first album in a planned trilogy which tells of life under a cruel totalitarian government. Being the first in the series, this album outlines the regime's rise and some of it's less than savoury actions. As most of you who are interested in Phideaux's music already know, even though it and Doomsday are part of a trilogy, they sound nothing alike.

The album begins with a great rock number, Wake Up. This has some excellent lyrics. It's perfect for singing along to. So far it is my favourite Phideaux rock song. Worlds better than the Ruffian On the Stairs off of Chupacabras. It is by no means generic; it still has heaping spoonfuls of the Celtic/Gothic influence which sets the band's sound apart from the majority of other acts. It really doesn't sound much like anything else on the album either for that matter.

The following track You and Me Against a World of Pain is sets the tone for the majority of the album. It is a longer track clocking in over 5 minutes it is about mid tempo and never really veers to far from where it begins. Lyrically and musically it starts a feeling of sinister conspiracies and creeping paranoia. This theme is picked up with even more emphasis on the Waiting. It too stays mostly set within its musical bounds, but I think it does more to further the narrative than You and Me.

Abducted takes an even darker turn. It abandons the bouncing beat (like a warped pop song) favoured especially in the previous track for something more along the lines of grunge with a dabble of psychedelic. The sounds are more stretched and distorted. At about the mid point there is a tempo change and a rapprochement to the earlier pop vibe. It eventually settles back to where it was for a noisy Floyd-esque fade out. Better, than the last two, but not exceptional.

Rainboy is one of my favourite tracks from the album. It feels much more like the mid tracks on Number 7 do. It has a slow start which builds slightly before tipping into an up tempo rock portion in minor key. It also has some not overly adventurous, but none the less excellent synth. The beginning typifies the excellent vocals and lyrics which are a hallmark of Phideaux.

I Was Thinking About You, begins with an otherworldly swirling which eventually gives way to the acoustic guitar driven body of the song. It is at times bright and at other times darker and snarling. My feeling is that it is at its best during its darker moments. The lyrics get a touch esoteric at times and take away from the aesthetic. Again, nothing I'd write home about.

Long and Lonely Way is another passable pop number in the same vein as You and Me; nothing too much to report for it. It does a little more to further the narrative.

They Hunt You Down paired up with Tannis Root and in my opinion make up one of the strongest portions of the album, both musically and in terms of progression for the narrative. They tackle the actions of the government more directly and bring it in conflict with our protagonist. They aren't quite Doomsday material, but they are emotional and go beyond the generic rock/pop boundary into something with a more symphonic feel.

One Star is another middling rock track. Distorted vocals make it stand out slightly, but this only an album showpiece for someone interested in singles and not the totality of the album. Moving on.

Lastly, Last? the best song on the album. It plays out like the calm before the storm. It marks a turning point in the narrative, where the protagonist gains his will to resist through the loss of a friend. The emotions that Phideaux are trying to build up: fear, distrust, self loathing and hatred are cast aside in a call to action. It reaches a high water mark when Xavier gives one of his most impassioned vocal performances on any album. The stage is now set for Doomsday Afternoon.

So that's the great leap. It's fairly consistent and not overly extravagant. It's biggest strength comes from its strong story telling which is possibly the most explicit of any of Phideaux's concept albums. There are some bright spots which nearly propel it to four stars, but unfortunately fall short.

Who would I recommend it for?

Someone looking for a pretty approachable experience who enjoys rock and pop music which is more than a little bit unconventional. Hard core proggers might be a left feeling a little wanting but there are certainly some diamonds in the (relative) rough. Of course Phideaux fans will have plenty of reasons to like it.

I also think that even though it is overshadowed to a large degree by its follow up it is still part of the artists' vision and is a companion piece to Doomsday Afternoon. I think omitting it is a mistake if you are looking for the full experience. If at all possible I would suggest avoiding the mistake so many of us have made (myself included) and listen to The Great Leap before Doomsday. If I could make a suggestion for the band when they revisit the trilogy for its closing act, it would be that they should strive for a more overt musical connection between their works. It doesn't mean the albums have to sound alike, but I think the odd musical quotation would make for a more holistic experience.

Who would I not recommend it for?

People who like bad music :P

Three out of Five One Stars

R-A-N-M-A | 3/5 |


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