Professor and the Madman - Seance
How in the world does a band produce an album this good? Since the newest effort from Professor and the Madman is called Séance, is the band perhaps getting a little help from the other side? Are these captivating tunes coming to the foursome from the great beyond? Well those are interesting thoughts, but while Séance, is super, it is not supernatural. The credit for the likability of the 12-tracks within Séance, goes to good old earthly talent.
Professor and the Madman has a very experienced lineup that features singer and guitarist Alfie Agnew (Adolescents, D.I.), singer and guitarist Sean Elliott (D.I., Mind Over Four) and a rhythm section that boasts alumni from the Damned, bass man Paul Grey (also of U.F.O. and Eddie & the Hot Rods) and drummer Rat Scabies. Their talents combine on Sťance for a set that mashes-up power pop melodies with prog rock side trips; a perfect example is opening cut "All the Lonely Souls," an Alan Parsons Project-meets Cheap Trick rocker that sets the mood for this otherworld-themed set. "So Long" portrays a man trying to figure out if life is still worth living, but it's set to a bright melody and singalong lyrics that belie the fact that the guy is thinking of chucking it all, and "Time Machine" is an irresistible and bouncy pop song with an appropriate dose of childlike optimism woven into a happy groove. After a spacey mid-song instrumental interlude that represents the traversing of time comes a list of things to be done in the past; correct mistakes, make lots of money, and in a clever nod to Scabies and Grey, "1980 and go see the Damned."
Considering how the band creates unforgettable hooks with somewhat esoteric lyrics, often eschewing traditional song structure, it is not inappropriate to compare them to XTC, and the delightful "The Council of Purgatory" is very much in the XTC oeuvre. The band might not care for such an accolade, but there is genius at work here in this amazing homage to crossing over. In a hopeful nod to reunification with loved ones on the other side, the closing lyrics are "Maybe we'll see you again." Taken more literally, fans can only hope the band will return sometime with another set of this high caliber.
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