Did you ever feel like you are traveling in the left lane of life? No Restraints is not In The Left Lane of music so to speak but their music covers those feelings that make us feel like we are outside looking in, not a part of, all alone in a crowd of 300 people. I think you get my drift.
This album steadily grew on me and made its way into my psyche. Mark Smith and his vocals reminded me of Peter Gabriel era Genesis. Smith takes a lead role with his instrument as well. The keyboard is the driving force behind everything else happening on the recording, which is all very good. The bass and drums are exceptionally balanced and the sax adds an earthy almost ambient feel. As everything comes together and mixes down, Smith's vocals push each storyline along.
This music can be dark and strange with odd time signatures, then change with more steady rhythms and a catchy hook from a bass line or a sax break. Even with all the changes and the absence of an electric guitar slashing away or fat power cords for sound to build on, the acoustic six-string fits in nicely with their overall presentation, giving them a more tasteful appealing invitation to their party. Crunching power is not what they are about-their sound is similar to Pink Floyd all mellowed out, minus the David Gilmour guitar licks, this is where the strong bass and keyboards come in to fill that void. I found it all very consistent and pleasing all the way through. They are subtle yet stark and prolific, dependent on the pace they are coming at you, which keeps it all very interesting. This CD is definitely not lacking in substance lyrically and musically.
"Modern Amnesia" is one of my favorite tracks and a grand showcase for the band's musical acumen. Smith is the star of the show, using his supporting cast very smartly. Starla Robinson (tenor sax), Mitch Parker (bass), Jon Terry (guitar), Christina Terry and Rachael Cain (backup vocals), and AKA (drums) are a very important parts of the means to an end, or where the left lane ends as it were. All things considered- I enjoyed this very solid release quite a bit.
When this was over, I did not feel I was lost in the left lane with no way out; I related to it all and could find empathy for those still driving down that lonesome road.