Review Summary: Delusion Squared build upon their promising debut with a highly accessible album packed with prog tinged synth-rock, addictive hooks and sweet melodies.
Crossover prog, what is it " There are many groups labelled as crossover prog, all with extremely different individual styles, but what it's apparently supposed to indicate is that the music is related to popular music in some way. This might scream 'gateway music' to some people but succinct arrangements and easy melodies don't necessarily indicate worthlessness. Polyrhythms, 23 minute songs and time signature tomfoolery are not the only things which define the world of progressive rock. "Delusion Squared" are a crossover prog group from France and this is their second release, cunningly entitled "delusion squared II".
Before I get underway with the review I will admit up-front that I have been in love with the lead vocalist, Lorraine Young, ever since I heard 'In My Time of Dying' from their debut release. She doesn't have a particularly powerful or striking voice but there is just something about the way she phrases her words when she sings in English that appeals to me. Female fronted prog groups aren't particularly rare these days but there is a very cute and endearing aspect to her vocal delivery. On their debut album the music was entertaining but slightly underwhelming. Second time out the band sound much more assured than before and have moved deeper into prog rock territory while retaining their ability to throw out memorable melodies and catchy hooks. The album opener 'Double Vision' is a pop-prog number which is quite appealing in its own right but doesn't really represent the music as a whole. Things become much more interesting when 'Delusion Squared' become more adventurous with their arrangements and as such 'Necrogenesis' is a huge improvement with its angular synth motifs and chugging riffs. The music encompasses many styles and even within one song the band can veer from acoustic folk to synth-rock to prog and ambient while still retaining coherency. There is a warm acoustic feel to most of what is on offer and all is rosy during the quieter less intense sections but unfortunately the quality of production sometimes lets the side down when the music becomes more complicated. It can all sound rather muddled at times with the percussion in particular lacking dynamism and taking on an artificial edge such that the dramatic effect of the more powerful sections of music is somewhat diminished. Leaving production quibbles aside though this is an engaging and consistently enjoyable sophomore release with not a dud track in sight.
Bona fide progheads may well turn their noses up at this type of easily accessible material but this can be a very appealing album if you don't approach it expecting to be dazzled by overtly technical displays of musical prowess or avante-garde expressionism. This also might appeal to fans of new-prog bands in the mould of 'Pure Reason Revolution' or purveyors of the type of synth-rock trammelled by the likes of 'The Birthday Massacre' and even some indie pop lovers might find something to identify with.