Day 17 in my ‘Album of the Year 2013’ countdown and we’re really into the business end of this series of posts. As always, thanks for reading and, if you’re new to me, my blog or just this countdown, links to the rest of my choices can be found at the bottom of this post – please check them out and maybe you might discover something new and exciting in the process.
And now for the main attraction, my choice at Number 4:
Big Big Train hold the distinction of being the only band to feature in successive end of year lists, after ‘English Electric Part 1’ found itself in my ‘Top 20 of 2012’. ‘English Electric Part 2’ is also by far the softest album in this countdown and may surprise a few of you. However, don’t be put off because this is a fantastic progressive rock album. No, more than that, it is sensational.
This album picks up where its predecessor left off in so far as the music is best described as quintessentially English pastoral progressive rock that takes the listener on a journey from beginning to end. And, if anything, “English Electric Part 2” ups the bar even further. For my money, the compositions are slightly more melodic and accessible than those on “Part 1” although the complexity remains as does the passion and dedication from each and every member of the band.
You may hear nods towards the likes of early Genesis in some of the compositions, but genuinely, Big Big Train have their own unique and special identity. The music can be described as bitter sweet almost – it has a richness, warmth and honesty about it which is utterly beguiling. And yet, at the same time, the compositions are tinged with a wistful sadness as they lament certain aspects of English life that no longer exist or have changed almost out of recognition over the years.
From the opening 15-minute epic ‘East Coast Racer’ to the heart-achingly beautiful and poignant closer ‘Curator of Butterflies’, there is almost nothing that I would change about the album. Those that know me will smile when I say that the music is so good that the inclusion of brass instrumentation does not ruin the listening experience for me.
Put as simply as possible, for me, ‘English Electric Part 2’ currently represents the absolute pinnacle of classic English progressive rock.
The 2013 ‘Album of the Year’ countdown so far:
Day 1 – Number 20
Day 2 – Number 19
Day 3 – Number 18
Day 4 – Number 17
Day 5 – Number 16
Day 6 – Number 15
Day 7 – Number 14
Day 8 – Number 13
Day 9 – Number 12
Day 10 – Number 11
Day 11 – Number 10
Day 12 – Number 9
Day 13 – Number 8
Day 14 – Number 7
Day 15 – Number 6
Day 16 – Number 5