This band originally started life as a duo back in 1995 when bassist/ songwriter/ producer Bob Madsen met guitarist/songwriter/singer Brian Cline in the North Bay Area of California. Brian and Bob began working together on a few tunes written by Bob and began a lifelong “bromance.” Interestingly to progheads, Brian was the original singer with Enchant and Bob has guested with them multiple times. The band is now completed by Kenny Steel (guitars, keyboards, string arrangements) and then guests are brought in on drums and additional instrumentation. There are a few things which make this band stand out for me, and the first is the bass. Here it is not being used as an instrument to sit alongside the drums but is often the lead melody. We are treated to a masterclass in how to use the instrument, both fretted and fretless, and it took me a long time to work out who Bob reminds me of, and in the end,  I finally realised it was the mighty Ox, John Entwistle. Like Entwistle, Madsen can provide nuances, work the complete length of neck, and also put in blisteringly quick bursts when the music demands in. There are also times when we get slap and pop, which provides a totally different feel to the songs.

But, one of the reasons the bass is such a success is due to the strength of the songs and also to the wonderful vocals of Brian Cline. He can put a rough edge on his voice, or sing melodic straight down the line, which gives a totally different feel in many ways. This is music which refuses to be pigeonholed – I know there are some which are calling it progressive, even heavy, but to be perfectly honest it is neither of those things, both these things, and much more. Think of it is as songs-based rock which contains elements and influences from everywhere while still staying pretty middle of the road in terms of overall sound. It is a clever trick designed to lull in the listener as the songs are full of hooks, well sung, but with far more going on than may immediately be apparent. I gave up trying to think who these guys really remind me of, and in the end will just say Eighties melodic rock with pop and prog tendencies, which at times may or may not include funk. There is a confidence in both the performance and material that they will have complete sections where it may be just drums, vocals, and/or bass. It is an incredibly laid-back album in that it never feels rushed and the listener relaxes into it like a favourite armchair.

Elements of Level 42, Tears For Fears and Be Sharp? Yes, I guess, maybe. Oh, I don’t know, just go out and grab this album as it is a damn fine listen and I smile each and every time I play it as I enjoy it that much.

9/10 Kev Rowland