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TRACK LIST: 1. Killing What You Live For 4:38 2. Monster 4:55 3. Enough 3:46 4. Forgotten Ones 4:19 5. Confidence 3:21 6. Heartstrings 4:06 7. Fundamentalist 3:30 8. Lost Angeles 5:08 9. When I Die 5:02 10. Sunday Morning 3:49 11. Nothing at All 4:30 12. Absinthe 5:20 LINEUP: Chris Albers guitars; piano, keyboards; vocals Mario Lackner drums, glockenspiel; keyboards; vocals Jason Paulsen bass
Prolusion. The US trio NO SECOND THOUGHT was formed in 2007, and their choice of band name was a deliberate one describing their approach to the art of musical creation. As the band states on their homepage: "Your first impulse is always your purest. When you question it, you blur your original intention and overcomplicate everything". Adhering to that philosophy, their debut album "Monster" was put together and issued in the spring of 2010.
Analysis. One of the issues that frequently pop up when you're writing for a webzine catering to an audience whose main interest is progressive rock in all its guises and variations is one about defining this style. Where does progressive rock end and mainstream rock begin? What are the dividing lines between art rock and alternative rock? Where does grunge end and progressive metal begin? One of the bands that may make quite a few ponder along similar lines of thoughts is No Second Thought, a band that appears to make quite an effort not to be pigeon-holed into any specific style or genre. Ten or so minutes into "Monster", I think most of those who have their first encounter with this production will label this act as an alternative metal outfit of some sort. More or less aggressively spoken vocals on top of dark but admittedly quirky guitar riffs are a main feature of opening track Killing What You Live For, with more distinctly staccato aggressive riffs being a central part of the title track Monster which is next up, and some sort of grunge-tinged balled next up on Enough. Aggressive and slightly sophisticated metal, but alternative rather than anything related to progressive. But as that conclusion starts crystallizing, No Second Thought suddenly pushes their listeners into rather different parts of the always-expanding musical universe. Gently resonating psychedelic-tinged guitar licks and softly spoken vocals underscored by a nifty wandering bass motif are central aspects of the brilliantly low-key Forgotten Ones, and while the chaotic and aggressive universe visited on Confidence again strengthens the alternative description for this act, another dampened creation unfolds next on Heartstrings. Gentle tribal drum patterns in slow motion and psychedelic-inspired instrumental flavoring are a part of the package on this occasion too, while the following Fundamentalist arguably covers more subsets and variations of styles and genres within and outside of the art rock universe than most can say they are truly knowledgeable about: Covering most musical ground you can find between rap metal on the one hand and gentle psychedelic progressive rock on the other. The psychedelic impulses continue on as a prevalent tinge until the end from here, mixed with dampened and gentle but refined motifs on the boundary of the art rock universe as well as with creations with more of a distinct grunge-inspired expression, the subtly sultry vocals of Albers underlining the latter with a delivery not light years away from the one used by the likes of Kurt Cobain. But there are always small, delightful surprises to be discovered on this unpredictable rollercoaster ride of an album: a brief and elegant opening jazz-tinged theme on Sunday Morning for instance. Or the massive, slow and majestic riff cascades that suddenly burst forth towards the end of the otherwise dampened, gentle and brooding final piece Absinthe, which until the final minute or so is one of the more distinctly psychedelic-sounding compositions. As far as progressive rock goes, many of these songs may fall just a little short of the mark to be described as such, the compositions being too straight-forward and too regular in structure. But the arrangements are inventive and the blend of sounds and styles makes this a production that should please those with a taste for sophisticated rock anyhow, to the point that I suspect quite a few might want to place this album somewhere within the art rock universe anyhow.
Conclusion. No Second Thought has made a fine debut effort with "Monster", and while the main associations that are brought to the table ultimately will be towards alternative and indie rock and metal, the inclusion of psychedelic elements and the often inventive arrangements should make this album one interesting to explore also for a more dedicated art rock crowd. Hard to describe and place within a given style, progressive in nature if not always in expression. One to seek out for those with a broad and liberal taste who appreciate music made with an inventive approach.
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