(ALARIC RECORDS; 2014)
Reacta is a… let’s call ’em an alternative prog rock band, shall we… hailing from a small town in Mexico called Aguascalientes. They started a couple of years back as an instrumental project, but have taken their intense fusion of sounds (rock, jazz, ambient, pop) to a whole other level since adding American lyricist and singer, William Merritt Hendricks to the fold. To say that this band’s musical style and influences are hard to pin down is a huge understatement. I guess that, to some people, saying that REFRACTION is simply good music just won’t cut it. They wanna know who Reacta sounds like. Well, good luck with that one, chum. Each of the ten songs, while offering a coherent whole, has so many things happening that just when you think, “I’m hearing a bit of the Edge’s guitar style here,” the entire vibe changes and you’re thinking, “The vocal phrasing kinda reminds me of Adam Levine.”
The opening track, “Lost,” is a gently rocking ballad with a smooth Maroon 5 vibe and a guitar part that is vaguely reminiscent of Big Country’s Stuart Adamson. “Back Home” continues the alternative pop feel, featuring swirling guitar textures and powerful drumming. The one comparison I’m getting is, again, a mish-mash of current and classic artists: Bruno Mars (with better lyrics) fronting early U2 or NONSUCH-era XTC. The track segues into “Puzzles,” which offers a more muscular sound, while maintaining the Bill Nelson/Robert Fripp sonic washes. The rhythm guitar is a staccato chatter throughout, which gives the tune a kind of heavy jam band feel. The Adam Levine reference comes in again while, musically, I’m hearing an Incubus influence.
With “Stay Here,” the U2 connection returns, at least lyrically and melodically. The guitars and keyboards interact well here, more as tonal effects as opposed to specific notes. This device is prominently displayed over the course of the album’s 54 minutes. The drumming is, again, very powerful and dynamic. The centerpiece of the entire disc is the 12 minute long “Complication.” An electric piano leads into a strident, anthemic first section. A powerful, heavy middle bridge leads into a funkier groove before transitioning into a kind of prog rock rave-up. There are at least four stylistic markers before (at about the 8:40 mark) the song morphs into a loopy, pastoral ambient soundscape. The track is rather schizophrenic, but the several disparate pieces actually make for an enjoyably cohesive whole, making it one of my favorite tracks from REFRACTION. “Skyscraper” is another slab of Maroon 5 style alternative soul funkiness, with power chords aplenty dominating the choruses.
“City of Lights” has that light and easy groove of the perfect summer windows-down, radio-up car tune. If the powers that be at Alaric Records are listening, save this one as an end of May single release! Until then, this album version will have to keep us warm through these colder-than-usual winter months. “Sound of Drums,” the first single, is another feel good anthem, though I’m not too certain as to the meaning. Apparently, it’s… an odd ode to the perfect drummer? The lyrics and melody line are easy and memorable, making a perfect sing-a-long song. The track also features an exceptional guitar solo in a sea of great solos. A dirty display of pure hard rock power kicks off “Last Train” before the artsier (almost jazzy) musical leanings are introduced. The vocals, like the music, are more forceful. If I had to compare the track with anything… maybe a more melodic, less grating Limp Bizkit fused with the more jam band like tendencies of Incubus. Uh… so there’s no mistaking what I’m saying here, this is more a stylistic comparison: This tune is more accomplished than anything LB ever produced. The final track, “Storyline,” offers a strange casio-cum-calliope rhythm and a sleepy, laconic vocal. A very nice way to end a thoroughly enjoyable debut.
Id like to say that Reacta needs to find that niche sound that will hold them in good stead with a certain stylistically like-minded group of fans. However, I think the fact that they can’t be so easily pigeonholed will enable them to cross genre lines and become an across the board success. There aren’t too many of those around these days. I just wish that somewhere (a web-site, an album cover, something) they would give us more info on who is in the band and who does what!