Impressively beginning their debut disc with the track “I’m Not Sorry”, California five-piece Test Your Reflex suggest they have the capability to transcend the monotony which often passes for major label rock these days. Despite being very obviously influenced by U2 and enabling the band to wear their admitted love of “all things Bowie and Eno” on their sleeve, the track magnificently seeks to reestablish the notion there can still be something grand and ambitious about rock and roll. Ultimately, the rest of the album is more hit-or-miss in its ability to create moments which stand on equal footing with the power of the first impression created by “I’m Not Sorry”. Over the course of eleven tracks, the band establishes a brand of ‘80s-inspired rock which derives its momentum from epic-sounding guitars and fits somewhere between the brooding charisma of Interpol and the populist appeal of The Killers. While several tracks resonate energy and a gift for the melodic (“Thinking of You” puts forth a vibe reminiscent of The Cure at their most amiable while “I Am Alive” boasts a memorable vocal performance by Ryan Levine), others (most notably “Do We Belong” and “Pieces of the Sun”) regress into languid territory marked by predictable hooks and textures which do little to distinguish the band from the host of their contemporaries also raised on ‘80s rock. The positives of The Burning Hour are positive enough to outweigh the album’s negatives and the band has all the makings of a bright future should they continue to pursue the ambitious and eschew the typical.
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// Notes from the Road
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