Big Big Train -
The Likes Of Us

(CD 2024, 62:43, Inside Out Music)

The tracks:
  1- Light Left In The Day(6:10)
  2- Oblivion(5:28)
  3- Beneath The Masts(17:26)
  4- Skates On(4:28)
  5- Miramare(10:18)
  6- Love Is The Light(6:12)
  7- Bookmarks(6:23)
  8- Last Eleven(7:55)

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After reading a couple of reviews dealing with the brand new Big Big Train album, titled The Likes Of Us, I really had to listen to it by myself, as most reviews were "drooling" about the fact how brilliant this new Big Big Train album is...

After a couple of spins, I concluded that The Likes Of Us is a good album, but definitely not brilliant or a milestone prog rock album indeed. The fifteenth studio album Of Big Big Train features new vocalist Alberto Bravin and it is also the debut of the band with Inside Out Music. Opening track Light Left In The Sky is my favourite song of the album as it is an excellent, mostly instrumental prog rock track; noticeably led by the electric guitar of Dave Foster's and the keyboards of Oskar Holldorff. So, an excellent song to start this new album with and it is followed by Oblivion - the first official single release from the album - featuring an addictive crushing guitar riff and some extraordinary vocals by "newcomer" Bravin, proving that this man can really sing indeed. Then, the listener is treated to Beneath The Masts, a seventeen-minute epic which is, at least in my humble opinion, way TOO long, at least six or minutes of the intro are really too tedious and kind of dull. But the last ten minutes of this BBT epic are really awesome as they are packed with trade-off solos, rapid riffs, and soaring melodies indeed. Miramare is the other epic-length song on the album and this one also is a bit too mellow for yours truly and I definitely do not like -maybe that is really unfair and not objective - the intense violin solo by Clare Lindley; sorry, not my cup of tea indeed. Skates One is a more acoustic number and if you have read my reviews before then you know how I feel about too much acoustic guitars; so, once again not a favourite track of mine.... Bookmarks is a 100% pure classic BBT song, the music builds very carefully indeed, and it is nostalgically packed with melodic guitars and great vocals. Love Is The Light never really comes to life for me as it is bittersweet, featuring too much brass and again too much violin; and even the soulful guitar solo does not "save" this track for me.... Last Eleven closes this album in a more than excellent way, kicking off with an urgent guitar melody, this song is really uplifting, and its rhythm is quite catchy and addictive indeed.

So, overall, BBT has delivered a good prog rock album again, but for me it is not a masterpiece, but as we all know, there is no account for taste....

***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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