1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Engineers are not like any other band. Onstage Simon Phipps is the singer, Dan MacBean is the guitarist, Mark Peters is the bassist and Andrew Sweeney is the drummer, but the real clue is in their name: they approach their music like engineers, carefully constructing wonderful walls of sound” (KScope, 2009) .
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
“Following the rapturous reception that greeted their mini-album Folly in 2004 and debut Engineers the following year, it’s taken them a long time to build the epic that is Three Fact Fader. After initial recording sessions with producer Ken Thomas, Engineers became unwitting victims of record company restructuring and the album was left in limbo, unfinished until the band reconvened earlier this year, largely motivated by public support. “We seem to appeal to people in a really deep way – people tell us our music has helped them through intense times in their lives,” explains Mark Peters. “This is why it was so important to get the album released, it means so much more than the peripheral aspects of releasing records” (KScope, 2009) .
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
Clean Coloured Wire – Cool synthesized mix with vocals to open the album. This band sets up a dreamy soundscape so well. The vocals sounds like they are coming from within a dream with the synthesized effects surrounding you in a sound chamber.
Sometimes I Realise – Another nice wall of sound opening to this one with more drums, guitar and effects. Nice quiet surrounding sound. “Time was slower in there flowing back to the start.” International Dirge – This one starts with that Beach Boys sound, made so famous on their first album. Wonderful melody and instrumentation. If this is a dirge song it is one of the happiest sounding ones I have heard. The guitars are dreamy and melodic.
Helped By Science – One of the best songs on the album. Starts off slow with drums and guitar. Those slow delivered vocals and that ocean breeze, beach sounding rhythm which just sets you back in relax mode. The dreamy guitar and slow almost ocean wave movement to the piece are superb.
Brighter As We Fall – The best song on the album and their best song ever IMHO. This took me right back to Alan Parsons, I Robot, and Day After Day. It has a similar rhythm and just makes you close your eyes and imagine. The guitar solo in the middle is spectacular. Soaring riffs that split the air and rock this quiet moment, bringing back memories of Script of the Bridge era Chameleons UK. Hearing this as an MP3 was the reason I ordered this CD. It is good enough to make one of my favorite songs of 2009. If the rest of the album hit these heights, this might be album of the year.
Hang Your Head – Back to the strumming guitar and drums along with similar vocals. The lyrics are different, but the similarities in the songs are becoming more apparent and the uniqueness begins to fade. Too much of a good thing.
Crawl From The Wreckage – Different sounding opening with new synths added. But the similar dreamy vocals and the wall of sound kicks in. Good, but going to the well too often now.
Three Fact Fader – The title track and some hope for a change of pace. However, the wall of sound is back and this one sounds similar to all of the others. The melody is different, but the sound seems the same.
Song For Andy – Finally some changes. This one has that wall of sound, but with more guitar riffs and stronger drums. The melody is different and stronger.
Emergency Room – Finally some new instruments and sounds. Drums with keys and a much more upbeat melody. The dragging sound of the past songs seems to have been left behind. More urgency to the music to fit the title theme. The almost orchestral accompaniment at the end of the song is so refreshing. They need to include more of this on the next album.
The Fear Has Gone – Slow low strings open this one. Good different vocals to this one with a melody similar to Sting’s A Thousand Years. Then the wall of sound kicks in, but not the same sound, much more powerful with more use of drums and launching guitars. Much more effective.
Be What You Are – Acoustic guitar adds a nice touch to the opening of this song. Hopefully there is more of this in the future. Nice vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Fleet Foxes. Wonderful sounds and effects to support the vocals.
What Pushed Us Together – Back to the wall of sound slow flow, but this time with more synth effects and changes. The Beach Boys harmonies really pull through on this one.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
It is wonderful mood music that sets a great comforting, calming mood. But too much of it seems to be repeated. The lyrics are different, but the wall of sound is always there. They definitely are different and unique in the prog/electronic genre, but they repeat their unique sound to the point where it loses its effectiveness in the middle of the album. It seems they felt they had to include everything on this album. Maybe taking out a couple of the songs in the middle would have strengthened the album. Typically I like more than less, but this time less would have been better.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
After hearing Brighter As We Fall as a demo track, I was really excited about the possibilities this album held. That song is so strong. I am a fan of the Chameleons UK, and they know how to differentiate their songs and at the same time maintain the wall of sound. The Engineers first album had more differentiation between songs than this one. I will listen to the album, but not as often as I thought I might have when I first purchased it.
Rating: 7/10 – A good follow – up to their debut, but they need to find the inspiration that created Brighter As We Fall, and avoid repeating their sound too much throughout the album. They need to add more instruments and maybe add some guest appearances on the next one.
Reviewed by Prof on December 24th, 2009