BIG BIG TRAIN

(UNITED KINGDOM)

THE LIKES OF US

(2024)
LABEL:

INSIDEOUT MUSIC

GENRE:

PROGRESSIVE ROCK

TAGS:
Epic, Intimist, Symphonic
"Big Big Train's fifteenth album, "The Like of Us", is rich and varied enough to generate many listens."
TONYB (28.03.2024)  
4/5
(0) opinions (1) comment(s)
Could Big Big Train be the most resilient band on the progressive planet? After a rather anonymous first half of their career, and a second that was suddenly boosted by the arrival of David Longdon and produced monuments such as the two volumes of "English Electric", propelling the band to the very top of the progressive hierarchy, the sudden disappearance of the latter and the multiple changes in personnel could have been a real blow to the entity led since its beginnings by Greg Spawton. And yet, overcoming all these setbacks, the band continues to produce studio albums, live albums and other compilations at a frenetic pace, boosted by a new distribution contract with one of the market leaders.

And so, in the spring of 2024, "The Like of Us" was released, Big Big Train's fifteenth offering to its ever-growing fan base, welcoming for the first time behind the microphone Italian Alberto Bravin, a defector from PFM, and charged with the weighty responsibility of succeeding the man who died too soon.

The album opens with a very intimate introduction, with piano and 12-string guitar at the head of the gondola, resolving itself with a magnificent symphonic chorus at the end of which the horses are unleashed for the various instrumentalists, each happily blending his or her score with the others. 

A radical change of direction with 'Oblivion', Alberto Bravin's first official recording, which kicks ass from the very first bars of a highly dynamic, single-like track reminiscent of Spock's Beard (isn't that the band of a certain Nick D'Virgilio?), with plenty of backing vocals, a syncopated rhythm carried by the bass and cutting guitars perfectly suited to the muscular interpretation of the new incumbent behind the microphone.

Fans of the traditional Big Big Train, don't run away just yet, because 'Beneath the Masts', an epic track lasting over 17 minutes, will take the band back to their preferred territory. The first nine minutes allow the band to remind us just how great their love for Genesis is, and has been since the very beginning. The first part is simply magnificent, a blend of pastoral progressive and soaring melodies, with a delicate piano score and that evocative twelve-string guitar.

The abrupt break in the middle of the track, opening the way for a highly technical instrumental section, will obviously delight all aficionados of music that speaks as much to the emotions as to the neurons, before the track returns to a calmer mood for a sumptuous finale that will evoke the best of Pendragon.

The rest of the album is just as superb, with the other epic nugget 'Miramare', whose title (the name of a castle near Verona in Italy) sounds like a magnificent message of welcome to the new singer, but also a collection of tracks in which the moods can go from bucolic to stormy, always with an obvious concern for melody, at the risk of occasionally lapsing into length (or rather languor), for example on 'Last Eleven', which is a little too repetitive, and perhaps poorly placed at the album's conclusion after all the marvels that precede it.

Nevertheless, these slight hiccups should not distract the reader of this review and future listener of "The Like of Us". Big Big Train's new album is rich and varied enough to generate many listens, with a new dynamic harmoniously blended with the band's traditional ingredients. Highly recommended.
- Official website

TRACK LISTING:
01. Light Left In The Day (06:10)
02. Oblivion (05:27)
03. Beneath The Masts (17:26)
04. Skates On (04:28)
05. Miramare (10:17)
06. Love Is The Light (06:11)
07. Bookmarks (06:23)
08. Last Eleven (07:55)

LINEUP:
Alberto Bravin: Chant / Guitares / Claviers
Clare Lindley: Violon / Choeurs
Dave Foster : Guitares
Gregory Spawton: Basse / Guitare Acoustique / Mellotron
Nick D'Virgilio: Batterie / Percussions / Guitare Acoustique / Choeurs
Oskar Holldorff: Claviers / Choeurs
Rikard Sjöblom: Guitares / Claviers / Choeurs
   
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CALGEPO
28/03/2024
  0
La chronique offre une vision très juste de la résilience du groupe Big Big Train, groupe un peu hors norme dans son évolution collective. On retrouve dans "The Likes Of Us", l'essence même de cet art narratif qui les caractérise depuis ses débuts, tout en remarquant quelques évolutions subtiles à travers des passages plus dynamiques. C'est un témoignage émouvant de leur engagement continu envers cette aventure musicale malgré la disparition tragique de David Longdon, épreuve que chaque membre a pu traverser avec tristesse. Un hommage sincère à la persévérance et à la créativité.
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