|House Of Lords Cartesian Dreams||Frontiers Records|
After two albums in quick succession that followed the same winning formula, House Of Lords frontman James Christian sought to infuse some fresh blood into the songwriting process for the band's latest album – enlisting the help of long time friend and collaborator Mark Baker (House Of Lords, Mark Free, Signal).|
The result is an album that follows in the footsteps of acclaimed albums World Upside Down and Come To My Kingdom, yet deviates more so than either of those two records, mixing up the approach of the songs and removing any possible predictability without losing the feel of the last two records.
The band remains the same – so the guitar and rhythm section retain the same sound as the last two records, but the songs here are more varied in pace, less obvious when it comes to the choruses and more original as far as stepping 'outside the square' with changes in tempo and song structures.
Mark Baker has given House Of Lords a fresh coat of paint, helping the band continue their legacy and bring back a couple of missing elements. It was needed in order to deliver 3 albums in 4 years and remain in the forefront of fans minds.
Cartesian Dreams is more dramatic and progressive than the last two albums, but retains the big sound of those albums and the classic HOL sound that Power & The Myth is now infamous for abandoning.
Another interesting extra ingredient here is the more prominent role played by Christian's wife, singer Robin Beck.
Robin supplies a lot of the album's backing vocals and also mixes in with James' vocals to supply some of the higher range notes within songs. It is a very subtle change, but if you listen carefully – it's definitely there.
She also duets with James on the song Repo Man.
The choruses here are less obvious and rather than being in your face on every track, such as they were on Come To My Kingdom, this time to have to listen harder and get to know them as the albums becomes more familiar.
Tommy Denander also brings his melodic credentials to the party, co-writing and playing on Sweet September and Never Never Look Back.
Track By Track:
The thumping and dramatic mid-tempo title track Cartesian Dreams has an almost progressive feel to it and delivers a powerful, rather than over the top chorus to set up the album's intentions.
Born To Be Your Baby retains the cheesy girl-crazy lyrics that I was hoping would disappear, but you can't argue with the raspy lead vocal here, which sounds as fresh as the band's debut. A big riffing bridge and catchy chorus makes it an anthem worth appreciating.
Desert Rain is raw hard rocker with guitars everywhere – acoustic and electric. A fast paced verse slides into a moody chorus with an instantly likable anthemic vocal.
Sweet September is a terrific big rock ballad with soaring vocals and harmonies everywhere, sliding from soft and slow to big and bold.
Bangin' features some truly questionable lyrics, but you still can't help but like the hard rocking approach, the thumping rhythm section and a catchy bridge into chorus arrangement.
A Simple Plan features a heavy groove and a commercial chorus.
The moody Never Never Look Back is a very heavy track featuring layers of swirling keyboards and vocals in an almost progressive setting. Not an instant chorus, but I love the arrangement and the fact it is different.
The Bigger They Come is a fast moving big classic House Of Lords anthem in the style of the last 2 albums with a monster chorus.
Repo Man is another change of pace, this time featuring a heavy, yet laid back groove. Robin Beck joins in during the chorus for a unique duet style delivery.
Saved By Rock is about as cliché as it comes lyric wise, but the way it is performed here, you can't help but feel the guys believe every word of it. All in all, it remains another catchy song.
Joanna is one of the main tracks to remind me of the Sahara album and older House of Lords. This is one for long time fans and features another strong catchy chorus.
The Train is a laid back acoustic driven rock ballad, with a great lyric and a sentimental heart. A nice way to close the album.
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