Six by Seven

04

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    8
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After three wonderful but undeservedly obscure albums on the Mantra label, for Six by Seven's fourth release, the now-trio went the self-released route on the Saturday Night Sunday Morning label, which bandleader Chris Olley used for his later efforts as Twelve. 04 is not quite a transitional release but acts more as a catchall, pulling together tracks from a variety of sessions that often have a rougher and more stripped-down feeling than the often majestic albums that preceded it. No question that the band's ambition remained intact, though, as the barnburning Motorik crunch "Untitled" which starts the album makes clear. Meantime, when 04 totally turns up the volume it does so full-on -- "Sometimes I Feel Like..." has instrumental breaks which could knock a wall down, while "Catch the Rain" ranks with the best of their should-have-been anthems. Flashes of non-rock touches turn up at various points, thus the sitar (or sitar-like) melody that forms the core of the excellent "Ocean," but mostly this is Six by Seven doing what they have always done so well -- demonstrating that a well-established sound and format can be as thrilling and driving as ever it was. Even when some of the songs have a slightly more pedestrian feeling, as the blues-rock chug of "Say That You Want Me" shows, something like a brilliant Olley vocal performance, yearning and sharp, turns the tide. And when Olley delivers the chorus of "Bochum (Light Up My Life)" in particular, he makes a phrase pounded into horrible death by Debby Boone turn into one of the most life-affirming things around. Sometimes that's all one needs.

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