This new release from The Striped Bananas is a re-working of their first album from back in 2012, with a few new additions. There’s perhaps a more raw, classic progressive rock feel to this one than last year’s project Stone Of Madness. Mind Desert kicks things off with volume and energy, appearing with a vast warmth of instrumental distortion and a superb leading guitar riff. In addition you get the detailed imagery and scene-setting of the lyrics, and a four-note verse melody to keep things simple and quite hypnotic.
Brain Waves follows the opener with an immediately acoustic feel, still their conceptual writing looks set to be reflective and thoughtful, which it is. That Pink Floyd streak begins to emerge. The song builds gradually but the melody and lyrics become quickly uplifting. Take My Hand follows and feels like something of a sequel, there’s optimism and a sense of dreaming big and living together in the moment. As always, the ideas are presented in a poetic and compelling manner.
The Jungle feels a little more fast-paced, almost punk-rock but gentle in being so. As things develop the ideas seem incredibly deep, the music matches and leaves you feeling as if you’re spiraling into the chasm and chaos of this string of thoughts and metaphors. The instrumental break brings together an unexpected gathering of parts and helps reignite that unique Striped Bananas sound.
Broken Wings is a musical highlight, the opening riff and the very first words whispered create an entrancing aura that draws you in. Songs that question things allow the listener to feel included in the moment, to make it their own and fall fully into the experience. Lady Lazarus afterwards seeks to break down those walls of contemplation by bursting through with raw indie-rock vibrancy and a detailed, descriptive story about a significant other. After this, Feels Like Love Inside pours through with another punk-like chord progression and guitar sound – one of the strongest on the project. There’s energy, rhythm, and space in equal parts, and the words are some of the most provocative and fascinating of all.
The latter half of the project makes for those moments in which you’ve completely adjusted to the feel of playlist – the band have become reliable, meaning you’re not listening out for new flickers of musicality, you just trust in the sound and you want to listen to their ideas. Memories marks this shift well with a sense of warmth and a reminder of the passing of time. Take The Love Back afterwards quickly settles in as one of the most recognizable, infectious songs on the project. A simple addictive rhythm, an easily memorable, descending melody, backed up by a chorus of voices, and a slightly haunting backing riff that effectively fills out all the distant space in a classically Striped Bananas way.
Keeping things growing stronger or shining more brightly, Into Your Eyes is another highlight for its fusion of this slightly familiar but still uncommon soundscape, and another deep and repetitive melody-line that weaves its way into your consciousness slowly but surely. This one feels a little like a long-lost classic from The Doors. Stop Reality follows and the acoustic energy is blissful at this point. The heartfelt aura of Knocking On Heaven’s Door seems to present itself, delicate and honest, near impossible to ignore or disconnect from. A minimalist yet entrancing song that questions the very essence and meaning of love.
Outstretched Arms is a piece that throws a curve-ball into the playlist and seeks to simultaneously haunt and comfort its audience. Ghost Girl then lightens the mood musically but provokes further intrigue with its concept and unfolding story-line. The musical build-up and the melodic progression are beautifully effective at this penultimate moment.
To finish things up in a rather striking and quietly epic way – Our Life Flows takes its time to create a reflective, creative ambiance around you, simple and thoughtful, with big thoughts but an added element of personal truth; letting you connect with and understand the narrator. This spacious and considerate song makes for an organic, soothing final track. The lyrics lay out both the vastness and the limits of life, but the music makes it feel OK regardless.
A single listen is likely to be less than enough for you to really take on the presence of these songs. A quick download will let you really get into the intricacies and take it all on as the more profound journey it is.