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Progress Reform

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Take the dripping, Gothic croak of Queensr├┐che's Geoff Tate, mix it with a good handful of Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s reverby distortion, throw in a macabre fascination with history, and you've got the debut mini-album from Leedsian space rockers ILiKETRAiNS. Progress Reform is, if anything, an ambitious project. Songs here attempt, among other things, to chart the course of Robert F. Scott's doomed race to the South Pole ("Terra Nova") and examine the life of chess master Bobby Fischer ("A Rook House for Bobby"). But for all their gorgeous waves of distortion and grand lyrical ambitions, ILiKETRAiNS are a one-trick pony. Lush, reverb-heavy arrangements follow one after the other, providing little else than a black velvet backdrop for David Martin's lugubrious storytelling. This approach would be just fine if the stories were compelling; unfortunately, this isn't the case. You know you're in trouble when "A Rook House for Bobby" opens up with (surprise!) "I just want to play chess with you," or when Scott is forced to utter a boneheaded rhetorical question like, "How could I have led these men to their demise?" These lyrics are so self-serious, not to mention so obvious, that they become parodies of themselves. There's not one twitch of humor or irony in "Stainless Steel," but there's something hysterical about the way Martin utters, "Please don't go in the kitchen, that's where the knives are..." ILiKETRAiNS are a Serious Band, and their humorless attitude does them in. [Beggars Banquet reissued the CD in 2007.]

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