Sans vo­cal­ist, French prog­gers are di­min­ished rather than de­luded.

Prog - - The Musical Box - NS

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.

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