CD Reviews

Dec Burke - 'Destroy All Monsters' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 13, 2010    
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Superb album showcasing Burke's talent to the maximum.

I recall my first encounter with Dec Burke and his band Darwin’s Radio when they played a cracking set to an audience of just six people in Southend. Such was their humour and personable nature along with the great music it made for an excellent evening.
More recently Burke has joined Frost* and Darwin’s Radio released their superb sophomore album (‘Template for a Generation’) only for the band to split up shortly thereafter, which is a huge shame. Consequently, Burke has turned his hand to producing his debut solo album, which has more than a passing resemblance to his work with DR, which will be no surprise, but maybe it sits slightly more towards the pop end rather than being overtly Proggy as he keeps the songs short and sweet.
Whilst playing guitar, keyboards and supplying vocals himself he also calls on the talents of Nathan King (Level 42, Frost*, It Bites) and Steve Kightley (Shadowkeep) for bass duties and Tim Churchman (Darwin’s Radio) on drums as well as featuring a keyboard solo by Carl Westholm (Carptree, Jupiter Society).
‘The Last Time’ starts with a programmed beat before a nice piano refrain joins in quickly followed by some symphonic keyboards. Burke’s vocals sit over the piano refrain, and as with DR he delivers a great bridge and chorus. Frost*’s second album comes to mind, but with an element of restrained not exhibited on that release. Burke certainly shows his qualities on all instruments mentioned previously and as an arranger with some huge bass pedals during the instrumental section. ‘Winter to Summer’ again has a programmed beat and a fantastic chorus whilst ‘Signs of Life’ is drenched in orchestral keyboards before the guitar enters the fray and takes the song along at a canter. Once more the melody is immediately pleasing and the keyboard accentuations really keep things interesting.
‘Sometimes’ follows the established pattern although I have to stress that that doesn’t mean the songs are the same, because they aren’t. ‘Secret Lives’ takes the pace down a notch or two and features a fine guitar solo. At this point I have to mention the production, which is immense. It feels dense with sound yet it’s never muddled or anything other than crystal clear.
‘Open’ is an acoustically lead number on which Burke’s arrangement is so good, with delightful piano and understated but superb keyboards giving the song a beautiful resonance. His breathy vocals are just right for the song and carry the emotion of the lyrics extremely well. ‘Promised’ is the album’s second longest track at six and half minutes. It keeps the tempo down initially but this increases as instruments are added to the keyboard wash that opens proceedings. A very atmospheric track I am reminded of bands such as Porcupine Tree during their laid back moments. Synth fans will enjoy the solo and when the guitar solo arrives it’s terrific. As for the bass, it’ll rattle your foundations.
‘Small Hours’ is another song with a very strong chorus and the melody is upbeat and uplifting whilst the duel guitar is brilliantly executed.
The album closes with the seven minute title track which opens on a piano and strings refrain before a quickening is lead by the drums and a new urgent piano loop. Now, I have to say that this track doesn’t have the same catchiness as its predecessors in respect of the chorus and melody and so probably isn’t the best song with which to end the album.
This is a super album and showcases Burke’s undoubted talent to the maximum - in the absence of Darwin’s Radio it will do very nicely, thank you.

Gary Marshall

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