The ideal circumstance for listening to The Red Paintings’ debut “The Revolution Is Never Coming” would be to lie on your back, eyes closed, with no distractions and no interruptions.
So perhaps the Australian act’s target demographic should be disaffected teens, grounded away from others, restricted to only music technology and sequestered in their rooms. Their minds just might be open to this complex work, and they’d be among the few who would be in the proper setting to digest it.
Still, it might take an adult to fully appreciate the vision and effort frontman Trash McSweeney invested in this five-year project. The release is painstakingly orchestrated, dense beyond comprehension and brimming with passion.
“The Revolution Is Never Coming” is earnest theatrical art-rock, breathtaking in scope. It’s reminiscent of Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead at times, but it’s more than that as sprawling tracks and changes in time-signatures create an apocalypse of sound where long guitar solos, horns, strings, harp and synthesizers push and pull through an elaborate, histrionic dance.
McSweeney’s vocals are plaintive, the lyrics more enigmatic than dark, though overall impenetrable. He’s defiant in the thrash and waver of “Wasps,” painfully restrained in the tense “It Is As It Was,” full-throttle in the nervous strum of the near-overwrought “You’re Not One of Them” and delicate in the trippy, enveloping epic “Dead Adult.”
The emotional ebb and flow is impressive and cinematic, yet the one thing McSweeney fails to do well is edit. The 13-track opus is stuffed with bloated cuts – several songs stretching out for more than 8 minutes – and as important as it all constantly feels, so much incessant drama leads to bouts of exhaustion, enervation and redundancy.
Kudos to McSweeney for finding a way to express himself so artistically and so thoroughly. Yet he over-challenges his audience … and it’s hard to be heard when you make it difficult for others to listen to you.
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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