Mere minutes into Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II, the hefty 18-minutes-plus opener to Crown Lands’ new album, you find yourself playing, which Rush song is this? Split into nine parts, naturally, and starting with Overture (I’m not making this up), you think to yourself: Begin Transmission, that part’s from Hemispheres, right? Didn’t I originally hear that section from Requiem in La Villa Strangiato?
The next time you have some friends over for, I don’t know, a Dungeons & Dragons evening, it’s a fun party game you can all play. I’m not being facetious, but there are moments on this sometimes excellent record where you’re completely taken out of the moment because you think you just heard Red Barchetta, which, dependent on your mood, can be laudable or risible.
The duo (and that they can sound almost exactly like Rush with one less member is astounding) of Cody Bowles and Kevin Comeau – I’d list the instruments they play, but that would take up the rest of the review – are so very deep in the 70s Rush oeuvre that you can almost see Geddy Lee’s kimono flapping about. There’s even a thank you to producer Terry Brown for his work on the record; close your eyes and you could be back in time, somewhere in the twilight zone.
The playing and Cody Bowles’s sky-high vocals are peerless (though on occasion they do veer off into a world set somewhere between Andrew Wood from Mother Love Bone and Eric Cartman when he sat in with Lil’ Rush), and they even manage to sing lyrics like ‘Event Horizon/Point of no return/Black hole!’ with a straight face.
Which perhaps sounds harsher than I might mean it to. The record’s peppered with great songs, even their 18-minute opus (a word you feel they’ll enjoy) glides along beautifully, and the second half of the record pulls off some daring feats of pomp pop and rock.
Dreamer Of The Dawn tears along with real panache, The Shadow has a wonderful, stuttering feel and a great overarching melody that is pure joy. Lady Of The Lake is prime Led Zeppelin at their woozy best, and The Citadel is lovely, lilting pomp complete with dreamy piano and a melody line that puts you in mind of early Queen. So, temper your cynicism, take a moment to listen, maybe hold your fire.