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From the moment that my headphones rested into place and the album began to enslave my eardrums it were as though I’d discovered a direct-line to the year 2001…

 

Though it doesn’t seem so long ago, in terms of a band retaining a fluidity of sound, tone and theme it is no easy feat. With Ian Thornley and Brian Doherty recombining to put at least half of the band’s original lineup back in play for Albatross (their first studio release in over a decade), we are easily reminded why Big Wreck was so greatly heralded as a revolutionary rock band from their inception.

 

Albatross, putting it succinctly, is a triumphant return to form for the band that took the music world by storm in 1997 with their release In Loving Memory Of… and it’s hit singles, “The Oaf,” “That Song” and “Blown Wide Open.

 

 
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While thwarted by poor marketing of their 2001 release, The Pleasure and the Greed, the talent level of the band and it’s founder, Ian Thornley, has never been in question. Due in large part to Thornley’s nationality, Big Wreck is a bit of a national treasure to Canada, finding much of their success there: but they were certainly openly embraced by many music enthusiasts in America— translating to measurable success for Thornley’s post-Wreck band, the aptly titled Thornley.

 

While the current lineup of Big Wreck consists mostly of members of Thornley, there is a tangible difference between the sounds of the respective groups. Doherty and Thornley (the man, not the band) craft a very distinct sound that feels like southern-rock in quality… heavy in driving riffage, yet thoroughly threaded with melodious, drifting arpeggios, dreamy melodies and soaring single-note bends that create roiling arcs of dynamic through each and every song on the record.

 

Albatross does have the definite feeling of being a display of the best and brightest of what Big Wreck had to offer from their first two albums… The group’s catchy songwriting is latticed with distortion and aggression— yet retains a soaring, spacey tonality that gives the listener a feeling of floating on the sea. With each song you ride swells to their crest and crash back down… your stomach lurching with excitement and your pulse raging from moment to moment.

 

This album is an experience from start to finish that will leave you scrambling to press play for round two.

 

Ian Thornley, for the uninitiated, is effectively the male equivalent of Aretha Franklin… easily living up to all the promise the music community lavished on Chris Cornell in the early 90’s. Ian’s vocals and melodies hover perfectly over the churning guitar lines and driving bass of Albatross like a schooner navigating turbulent tides.

 

Admittedly, I am making many heavy-handed metaphorical references to the life aquatic— but with a title like Albatross, this album lends to the comparison. Songs like “Wolves,” “Glass Room” and “Control” have such powerful grooves and soaring choruses that you’ll swear you were listening to cuts from In Loving Memory, while you get your fix of heavy tunes with “All is Fair,” “Head Together,” “Rest of the World” and “Do What You Will,to level the album off.

 

This is a straight-forward rock record that hits all the major touch-tones of a classic album while still putting a new foot forward… Albatross, like the band performing it, is a perfect fusion of the old school and new school— a beautiful blend of Big Wreck and Thornley that does not disappoint in the slightest. If you were a fan of the band back then… you’ll be enrapt by this new arrival. A must buy album…

 

– Daedalus
 
 

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