Review Summary: The group is at a crux in their career where they must choose a direction and run with it.The Samuel Jackson Five
is a fairly modern interpretation of neo-progressive rock that forgoes extreme complexity for melodic and compositional pursuits. But while the group's self-titled fourth studio LP aims to expand their sonic palette, it misses the fundamental creative blocks upon which they are built. Spotify preview "Ten Crept In" did well to prepare fans for SJ5's attempted entry into the vocal arena; after an immediate shock at the existence of said vocals it becomes apparent they are treated as yet another instrumental layer in this scenario. The record proper uses vocals much less than anticipated based on this preview, but does an excellent job in crafting meaningful voice-driven prog-rock. "Electric Crayons" is a perfect rendition of this new incarnation, forging heartfelt, oft-falsetto melodies and epic choruses. Where SJ5
falters, however, is what seems to be a missing link between itself previous offerings. While driven and melodic, tracks like "Never Ending Now" and "Race To The Self-Destruct Button" tend to omit the creative usage of dynamics and tempo the band emphasized on Goodbye Melody Mountain
and Easily Misunderstood
. The real perplexity here is why the tracks with vocals lack this flaw. It almost seems as if a majority of the compositions here were made with vocals in mind, but they were removed prior to recording. Fans of prior releases will find respite in "Mockba" and "And Then We Met The Locals", the latter a more progressive rendition of their sound highlighted by a blisteringly noisy sax solo at the tracks climax. "The Samuel Jackson Five" is an enjoyable yet inconsistent effort, finding the group at a crux in their career where they must choose a direction and run with it.