Welcome to day 27 of my ‘Album of the Year 2016’ top 30 countdown.
It has been a couple of days since I last posted an update in this series – don’t you just hate it when something as inconsequential as Christmas gets in the way of some serious blog writing? Only kidding, I hope you’ve all enjoyed the holidays and are now raring to get back on track with me with the next instalment of this slightly epic series.
We are getting to the really important posts now and with it, the seriously brilliant albums that crossed my path during 2016, helping make my year so much better and more enjoyable. Music has always been an important form of escapism for me and so the albums that feature in the latter stages of this series have given me so much this year to be happy about.
As always, if you are new to this series or if you have been negligent enough to miss any of the series thus far, links to each 2016 post can be found at the bottom of this post. In addition, you’ll also find links to my entire series from previous years, from 2012-2015 inclusive. I hope you enjoy checking them out.
And on that note, I must return to 2016 and reveal my fourth favourite album of this year…
Big Big Train
English Electric Recordings
“…Big Big Train are masters of song writing with the unnerving ability to pen everything from subtle and fragile pieces right through to up-tempo rocking numbers and everything in between, sometimes all of it within the same song. Their talent allows them to execute extremely technical and sophisticated material in a manner that makes it seem smooth, cohesive and deceptively simple.
…on ‘Folklore’, every track on the record contains a hook or a vocal line or a chorus that will pull you back time after time.
…it is fair to say that every one of the nine songs on offer on ‘Folklore’ delivers something special. This is a remarkably consistent, intelligent and thought-provoking album that is backed up by some of the best progressive rock that I have heard in a long time.
More importantly from my point of view, is the way that the album makes me feel. It makes me run the gamut of emotions if I’m honest, from elated to tearful, but does this in a very sensitive and subtle way. And, strangely enough, Big Big Train makes me proud to be English. It’s a rare feeling in this day and age, but they have a knack of focusing on topics and people worthy of our admiration and attention rather than the opposite.”
The very fact that a progressive rock album has made it this high in what is, essentially a heavy metal-oriented countdown by a dyed-in-the-wool metal head should speak volumes for the quality of this album. It is simply the greatest progressive rock album that I have heard this year. It might also be one of the best, if not the best, progressive rock album that I have heard for several years. Maybe even ever. And believe me, this is not just unfounded hyperbole, I genuinely mean it.
In my review earlier in the year, I focused on the melodies, the technical prowess of the eight musicians and the way that ‘Folklore’ made me feel. Well, several months on, these huge strengths have become even more important to me and even more pronounced.
Those melodies just burrow deeper into my mind, the stories and lyrical content become ever richer and more interesting and my affinity with the record just gets ever stronger. It is like I have a new friend, or several new friends and every time I press play, I meet up with them and we have another adventure together.
But, unlike a lot of the music that I listen to that has either a more melancholy edge or darker overtones, ‘Folklore’ is a positive life-affirming listening experience. Yes it has its more emotional moments that are thought-provoking or genuinely moving. However, more often than not, it is an album that ultimately lightens my mood, relaxes me and makes me smile.
And all this is wrapped up in some incredibly deep, complex and beautiful pastoral progressive rock that gives so much to the listener each and every time. Is there anything else that I need to say to convince you?
In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:
Album of the Year 2016 – number 8
Album of the Year 2016 – number 9
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2016 – number 13
Album of the Year 2016 – number 14
Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30