Eupnea by Pure Reason RevolutionRelease date: March 6, 2020
Label: Inside Out Music
Pure Reason Revolution are back with Eupnea, their first album in nearly 10 years. The Reading progressive rock band featuring core members Jon Courtney and Chloë Alper got back together for a festival in the Netherlands to play their debut album The Dark Third in full, then decided to continue with writing new material. Having parted ways in 2011, Jon and Chloë ventured onto other musical pathways but thankfully they have realised that Pure Reason Revolution needs another run out. Explaining their decision, the band said “We stuck to our manifesto of no musical boundaries and the result was ‘Eupnea’. We return to a more progressive sound with ferocious guitars, thunderous drums and the stacked harmonies that give us our signature sound. We’re excited to begin playing it live.”
Opening track ‘New Obsession’ is a melodic and expansive duet between Chloë and Jon, hurtling along at train wreck pace in the rockier passages. The guitars roar like sirens and the thunderous drums are reminiscent of Jimmy Chamberlain in full flow. The interplay between Chloë and Jon is blissful and is the strong focal point of the band’s sound. ‘Silent Genesis’ starts with a low key intro of electronic beats and textures, a passage of calm voices and slide guitar, like a countrified post rock band, before it erupts into a euphoric and seismic collision of beastly guitars, slamming drums and wailing pitch-bended synths. Once again the sublime connectivity between Chloë and Jon creates magic and the song ventures into wondrous technical prog rock over it’s epic ten minutes.
If it’s even possible to conceive the notion of Belle and Sebastian trying their hands at prog rock, then the result would surely be a little like ‘Maelstrom’. At times, the song flirts merrily with elements of sheer twee and only when the metallic sections crank up at the song’s finale, do I find any joy. The preposterously named ‘Ghosts & Typhoons’ shares bloodlines with Smashing Pumpkins, a fair amount of the album does, to be honest. The swooning guitars also nod to Billy Howerdel’s magic with off kilter arcs of ghostly beauty. Around the half way mark the track shoots up a notch with some metallic bite and when they go into full flight it’s glorious. ‘Beyond Our Bodies’ starts off as a tender and sweet ballad until a fierce drumbeat kicks in that sweeps the song into choppier waters. Just when you think they have reached the nadir of noise the song elevates a further notch as the guitars explode with metallic majesty.
Title track ‘Eupnea’ is all blissed out droning synths as Chloë and Jon melt their voices into a soothing mix. The song eventually swells and builds into a full blown epic of sweeping strings and scorching synths. However, Pure Reason Revolution have no control of themselves when it comes to pouring on the complexity and it’s hard to keep up on occasions as the song flits between sections with reckless abandon. By the end of ‘Eupnea’ you feel as if you’ve just heard a dozen songs in one, with only six of them particularly memorable. I don’t mean to be disrespectful as some of you are going to really love this, it’s just how my attention span works these days! They even throw in a fake ending for good measure.
Seeing the name Pure Reason Revolution was a blast from the past for me, I have their previous albums tucked away somewhere and can’t recall how or why they came to my attention originally. Chloë and Jon still have a brilliant way with a tune and their musicianship throughout is exemplary. The arrangements and production have a wonderful sheen and the overall result is a most satisfying record that is a worthy addition to their back catalogue. Hopefully they’ll want to stick together this time and deliver some more quality music.