Review Summary: "Experiments of Mass Appeal" is a showcase for Frost*’s talent, a band that creates some of the most catchy and interesting contemporary progressive rock music out there, and they do it in a way that’s as unique as the bands upbringing.
I’ve never been known as a man who hides his personal biases, especially when they pertain to music. I’ll admit to scoffing at artists simply due to the genre of music they play (country, for example. Guffaw!). So when I first heard of Frost* and was told that Jem Godfrey, the man behind its operation, was a former songwriter and producer of chart-topping pop hits for bands like Atomic Kitten, my views of the band were skeptical at best. Yet Frost*’s label as a progressive rock band got the better of me, and I gave them a spin. Saying my skepticism was misplaced would be an understatement. "Experiments of Mass Appeal" is a showcase for Frost*’s talent, a band that creates some of the most catchy and interesting contemporary progressive rock music out there, and they do it in a way that’s as unique as the bands upbringing.
Right off the bat, it’s evident that Frost* knows exactly what it’s doing. The opening track, which shares its name with that of the album, starts off with a suitably cool feel. However, mellow vocals and a soothing piano part soon burst into a veritable wall of sound that’s sure to catch your attention. Yet it isn’t long after the song progresses into an impressively chaotic showcase of the bands instrumental musicianship that the cool sleepiness of the introduction returns. This is a fantastic pattern that will be repeated throughout the album. Nearly every song feels like a roller coaster, its subtler moments suddenly giving way to crashing crescendos, and visa versa. "Experiments of Mass Appeal" uses the rise and fall of these climaxes better than most other albums I’ve heard, and it’s a key tool to the albums overall feel.
Saying that the band’s success depends entirely on this formula, however, would be a great injustice indeed. Each track is emotionally charged, with songs like "Saline" and "You/I" being as stirring as they are well written. The bands mixing and instrumentation is equally well done. Acoustic passages are often accompanied by a soft vocal track and a lulling piano tune, while the heavier parts rely on fast fingered electric guitar playing, superb use of the synthesizer and powerful, frenzied drumming. Godfrey’s time working with pop music is apparent as well, with certain songs, like "Toys" for example, having that catchy pop music vibe to them. This isn’t a bad thing, however. Instead it serves as another tool Frost* uses to create a unique sound I have yet to hear replicated elsewhere.
As great as "Experiments of Mass Appeal" is, it’s not without its flaws. The 2nd half of the album is noticeably weaker than the first, with ideas being rehashed and revisited. "Dear Dead Days" opens in an uninspired, simplistic way. "You/I" seems incredibly out of place, and doesn’t maintain the fantastic flow the album started out with. "Wonderland", the final track that spans almost 16 minutes in length, ends the album powerfully. However, a long gap of seemingly aimless sound sampling in the middle of the track does momentarily sour the experience. Such shortcomings are nitpicks in the larger picture, however, and do not deter one bit from my strong recommendation of the album.
To conclude, Frost* is a band that should be listened to. The fantastic, emotionally charged song writing and instrumentation will fill your ears with a sound you won’t find from any other band. The fact that Jem Godfrey moved away from pop music to create this album is a testament to progressive music itself, and only shows that (pardon the cliché,) you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Experiments in Mass Appeal