DBA ~ Suburban Ghosts – Album Review

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Suburban Ghosts
Cherry Red Records

Released Date: 6th November

Downes Braide Association – DBA in short are back three years new project, new album Suburban Ghosts, after their critically acclaimed debut album Pictures of You, creative powerhouse duo Chris Braide and Geoff Downes have drafted the second chapter of their joint venture. The album, entitled Suburban Ghosts, is modern prog rock, with a concept that flows through the lyrics and words. The title track opens with a bright and breezy melody and insistent almost mechanized drum beats. The lyrics hook you into the story – “I came across a photograph… A wake up call.. From the distant past…” you want to know what why and how this is impacting now on the opening track Machinery of Fate.
As Chris Braide explained “Geoff and I both play all the keyboards 50/50 and we decided not to use a real drummer as we love the aesthetic of the electronic duo which is how we approached the first album. I.e., Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Capital Cities etc. We love the image of two guys with machines playing prog pop. A real drummer would have made it more of a traditional rock sound and it’s more electro pop than that. Bits of guitars by me more as texture and David Gregory from XTC plays guitar solo on Dreaming Of England”.

Downes is a legend in the world of Prog having played his stylish keyboards in Yes, Asia and The Buggles, he co-wrote the hits Heat of the Moment and Video Killed The Radio Star. Then in London during 2010 he crossed paths with Braide and the story of collaboration began. Despite hectic and demanding schedules and stealing time creative juices thrived and Suburban Ghosts was born.
Chris Braide explains: “’Suburban Ghosts’ is an album about isolation and loneliness in small town suburbia.” The story goes back to his and Geoff’s childhood in the small county of Cheshire in the North West of England: its beautiful varied countryside landscapes in contrast with grey industrial wastelands, the feeling of claustrophobia that led them both away looking for a new adventure and those sentiments of nostalgia as they come back to a town populated with the ghosts of their past. “A blank town under a sky full of stars, the same blank town you left behind,……It’s time to let them go, those suburban ghosts.”

It is an album where you are submersed in a soundscape that laps around you with crafted beauty at times melancholy others with a festive feel but always quietly reflective. Twelve minutes of the album is dedicated to the title track and theme of the album and the keys and vocals harmonise adding power to the lyrical story that is being told that anyone who has experience of suburbia can instantly connect to. The three parts of the tracks Suburban Ghosts are a musical movement that is complete and tucked within the rest of the album that works around and develops the themes being explored.

With twelve tracks that ebb and flow and develop the concept of a town being trapped and isolated Number One is how to escape the prisoner need to be you own person and the drums have a hypnotic feel and work around the vocals and keys. About escaping with your dreams before the routines of work and respectability captures you this is a powerful message about self-belief and purpose. Half-way through there is a short Interlude of keys and vocals “life is not lost”… is sung and then into the next section of this Prog Rock opus. The music picks up tempo and the strings add a mystical feel as North Sea now provides the backdrop to a new chapter and Geoff Downes vocals again sear through the music unfolding another dimension to life. With a faster tempo Times Goes Fast you feel life is moving on yet nothing changes it is about stop dreaming and live your life as you saw it time is relentless and that is picked up in the lyrical tone poem that is the format of this track. The last two tracks Dreaming of England and Finale bring the exploration of life, suburbia and living in England to a close. The whole album has structure, movements driven by a melody that lightens and darkens the lyrics that pull you deep into the album that needs to be explored so the nuances of the words are not lost in this opus a modern tonal poem that is progressive music.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD NINE pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

1. Machinery of Fate
2. Suburban Ghost part 1 2
3. Suburban Ghost part 3
4. Vanity
5. Number One
6. Interlude
7. North Sea
8. One Of The Few
9. Time Goes Fast
10. Live Twice
11. Dreaming of England
12. Finale

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