I have to give props to our very own Robert English for introducing me to iLiKETRAiNS. Their track "Terra Nova" opened the Tripwire Push Upstairs Podcast.014, immediately catching my ear, which resulted in a phone call to Bobby E to find out more. The band hails from Leeds, although at times I would swear they are from Iceland. These five lads make music that combines the literary smarts of British Sea Power with the epic, glacial sounds of Sigur Ros.
The album starts with one of the best songs of '06, the aforementioned "Terra Nova," a track that begins innocently enough with guitar chords that could have come from a slower Interpol tune. This is just the calm before the storm, as the song continues to expand until it explodes into a downpour of shoegazer guitars. The first time through with this tune I really only paid attention to the mesmerizing music, and it wasn't really until my second or third listen until I really focused on the lyrics. It is the story of Robert Falcon Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole, a topic that could have easily been found on a British Sea Power album. I could keep on going about this glorious song, but I still have six songs left to go.
"No Military Parade" begins like a Sigur Ros track, easing in with a fantastically dark string arrangement backing frontman Dave Martin's haunting baritone vocals. Songs of failed expeditions are followed up with the story of a troubled chess player on "A Rook House For Bobby." iLiKETRAiNS get to stretch their legs out a bit on the intense "Stainless Steel," clocking in at over eight minutes. About half way though the track picks up some steam, adding layers of beautifully distorted guitars to send this one into orbit. The waves of sound continue to build and crash down on the listener for another four minutes.
Progress Reform is a rollercoaster of an album, filled with glorious highs and intense lows. If you are looking for a light pop album to head bop along with, this may not be the best choice. For music fans who appreciate lush arrangements and intellectual lyrical topics, this is an album not to miss. Filled with passion and breathtaking musical moments, iLiKETRAiNS' mini-album will definitely appear on my list of the best records for '06.