Sans vocalist, French proggers are diminished rather than deluded.
Although Magma remain a going concern, it’s fair to say that France has not been a progressive rock hotbed in recent decades. More recently, though, there’s been a prog mini-revival spearheaded by the wonderfully unique Lazuli, the more muted post-rock tones of Demians and, since 2010, Delusion Squared. Anthropocene is Delusion Squared’s fourth album, but significantly, it’s their first following the apparently amicable departure of vocalist Lorraine Young. The band are now reduced to a duo, with guitarist Steven Francis stepping up to handle all vocals in Young’s absence. While Anthropocene ploughs a similar furrow to its predecessors musically – think Signify/Stupid Dream-period Porcupine Tree – Young’s absence is striking. Francis’ vocals are broadly serviceable but seem one-dimensional and rather thin, suffering in comparison to Young’s rich tones, which imbued the first three Delusion Squared albums with much of their undeniable charm. Anthropocene has an intriguing and thought-provoking concept – dystopian parallel universes – which would have been better served by more inspired material.