Despite its many challenges, 2020 was an exceptional year for albums and with Singularity, it was almost a case of saving one of the best until the very last with this album being released at the end of November. Rain could almost be described as a supergroup from the West Midlands of England. The rhythm section is the stuff of legends, comprising Andy Edwards on drums and John Jowitt on bass, both of whom have played with both IQ and Frost*. The frontline is composed of Rob Groucott, son of the late Kelly Groucutt from the Electric Light Orchestra on vocals and keyboards and rising star Mirron Webb from Hey Jester on guitar and vocals.
Recorded entirely during the lockdown period between March and September 2020, the album is remarkable in terms of the ground it covers both musically and theoretically. The title welcomes interpretations of the many definitions of the word, embracing areas such as artificial intelligence and other technologies which could shape the future of humanity.
The result is a scintillating collection of compositions that get you thinking of XTC at one juncture and Muse at another, but the innate sonic intelligence throughout is the key factor.
Opener Devils Will Reign delivers a kaleidoscope of musical ideas led by Groucott's expressive singing and an underlying jazzy groove. Add acoustic and Spanish sounding guitars, driving rhythms and some stunning vocal harmonies and phrasing, Webb sounding very much like Matt Bellamy, and the song ends with a huge drum flourish.
Dandelion has a much tighter rockier sound, punctuated by some fabulous techno passages. But the lyrics really grab you and perhaps sum up a lot of people's current feelings: “They're telling you nothing, they're running out of lies; they're feeding you poison, can see it in their eyes.”
The magnum opus Walk Away is very much a track of two halves, the first part slower and meandering before really taking off and engaging in a much rockier riff. Again, the vocals are full of surprises, an almost chanted rhythmic phrasing with a techno undercurrent providing a different texture.
Slow and moody voices start The Magician, again another epic track with a palpable other worldly quality. Jowitt's bass rumbles away while the vocals scale some incredible heights, and a fantastic instrumental section gives it another exciting dimension.
The closing title track is something of a curate's egg, the lingering chorus from The Magician starting it off after which it takes on an ethereal techno groove, a glimpse of the future perhaps, while “This is it, open your eyes” provides a haunting refrain. It's a shapeshifting, mystical track which ends with ambient sounds of birdsong and water.
Eclectic, challenging and absolutely riveting from start to finish, Rain have set the bar very highly for themselves with this extraordinary debut album.
***** Alison Reijman
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