Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea


It’s been ten years since the last record from England’s Pure Reason Revolution. Their split in 2011 left many fans lamenting they might never see a spiritual successor to their acclaimed 2006 album, The Dark Third. Now Chloe Alper and Jon Courtney are back with a point to prove and a new universe of ideas to explore. And, by God, they’re aiming for the galaxy with this prog rock masterpiece.

Fans of the heavier forms of music will be delighted to learn they’ve amped up their distortion, kept the Pink Floyd foundations, and perfected their dual vocal harmony that made them so distinctive in the first place. No doubt Jon Courtney has also endured a bout of hypomania adding layers of ambience, piano splashes, synths and strings to a soundscape that evokes Smashing Pumpkins at their most majestic and the type of flourishes Robert Smith unleashed on The Cure’s 1999 opus, Bloodflowers.

Opener, ‘New Obsession’, is like a sunray penetrating through the fog of a glorious October morning. We get the standard Pink Floyd tape effects at the beginning before Alper and Courtney lay on a mesmerising duet that will make you shiver. Layers build and synthesise in a wash of guitar arpeggios before a Tool riff kicks in at the end. ‘Silent Genesis’ has the unenviable task of following this magnificent return, yet the band make it appear so effortless through ten minutes of space rock glory. The dark ambient underpinnings to the guitar progressions compete with a menacing bass synth bubbling in the background until the vocals takeover and Alper delivers another angelic performance to accentuate John Courtney’s Billy Corgan-esque snarl. You’ll hear a whole range of sounds from early Verve to Soundgarden and wonder what you’ve just experienced.

A tempo that breathes like a lone animal in a vast forest is as important as the intricacy of the band’s vision. At six tracks in length, Eupnea knows not to overstay its welcome. ‘Maelstrom’ starts with the Nine Inch Nails drum pattern to ‘Love is Not Enough’ before the band take you on a gorgeous meander through some of the finest pop intimacy you’ll hear this century. ‘Beyond Our Bodies’ is awash with guitar effects and strings packaged in an ensemble of alt rock glory. But the highlight is ‘Ghost & Typhoons’ – an eight-minute exploration that comes closest to a metallic soundscape near the end with a flush of heavy guitars. Closing track, ‘Eupnea’, is shrouded in keyboard reverb and wave-crashing melodies. Buried beneath is a crescendo of Moog meanderings and Led Zeppelin hooks in stoner heavy fuzz. You’ll feel the dimples forming in your cheeks at the thought of another listen.

Metal bands the world over can finally look beyond Radiohead’s Ok Computer as a reference point for incorporating more colourful and abstract landscapes into their bleak and angry sound. Eupnea is the album they should explore. We can only hope The Cure’s next album is this good and ask why Anathema cannot create something as monumental.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 03/04/2020

Record Label: InsideOut

Standout tracks: New Obsession, Silent Genesis, Ghosts & Typhoons

Suggested Further Listening: Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975), Smashing Pumpkins – Machina/ The Machines of God (2000), The Cure – Bloodflowers (1999)