Given my listening preferences, it may be that I simply prefer music that is dynamically focused. I like intricacies and details and musical breaks that take you on a journey. Vocals that are able to convincingly lean toward, both the fragile and the ferocious. Guitar playing skills that can be just as contemplative as it can be courageous. Unique progressive rock fusions that embody immersive tunes, rhythms and riffs, together with notably creative lyrical accompaniment. I found all of that on “The Pretty Trap”, an album by Detroit area based progressive rock band, West of Sunday, formed in 2020 by Jim Murad, Matt Sabin and Joe Singles.
Wonderfully executed through lyrical intrigue and musical versatility, exemplar songwriting can be found scattered throughout this album. There is no question that the artistic vision of West of Sunday has been wonderfully cemented throughout “The Pretty Trap”. It brings together the energetic rock tracks with the almost orchestral soundscapes. Whatever a prog-rock listener’s interest, this album is a “must have” for any lover of unique musical escapes.
Perhaps the most wonderful facet of the album is the dynamic collaboration of instruments. From the intoxicating guitar interludes to the smoothly rolling basslines and the incredible drum bursts, “The Pretty Trap” encompasses the beauty and emotive power of each instrument and fuses them in flawless and engrossing compositions. This is clearly evident from the virtuosic bombast of “Six-Foot Circle”, the bone-crushing drive of “Taking My Life” and then the jangling, slow-burning brilliance of the emotional “Burning Room”.
Standing out as arguably the best, and most accessible track on the album, “Burning Room” is a magnificent composition that embodies elements of classic, progressive, symphonic and psychedelic rock. It is a testament to the genres’ predecessors and a salute to the new ways in which music can create interesting auditory hybrids. Complete with catchy sound grabs, domineering bass lines and guitar centerpieces, the song is a perfect example of West of Sunday musical identity.
“Spellbound, Parts 1, 2 and 3” shows us the all-round splendor of West of Sunday’s compositional and performance depth. The tracks comprise over 10 minutes of epic music that weaves through varying moods, textures and tones, bringing together an apotheosis of melody and harmony within soft and loud aesthetics. The vocals are especially soulful, soaring and highly affecting here. This is when you start to realize how much work and detail went into making of this album.
Unexpectedly the straight ahead drive of “Kaleidoscope” features ear-pleasing female lead vocals, which add a nice flourish of variety to the album. The next track “Liberate My Soul” has a great rock n’ roll urgency that pushes it along steadily, before reaching the screaming closer, “One-Track Mind”. These final tracks prove without a shadow of a doubt that West of Sunday can also drop the intricate sophistication of their most complex musical pieces, and simply rock out, and kick ass whenever they want to.
In the end, every song on “The Pretty Trap” has something amazing to offer, and there are many moments where you will be totally mesmerized, by both the emotional pull, and the musical bravado. Recorded, mixed and engineered by Bryan Reilly at Golden Boy Studio in Ferndale (MI), the sound quality and production of this recording is also really good. All of which adds to a sublimely rich listening experience, in an album that thematically deals with common emotional struggles, such as escapism, addiction, recovery, optimism, and freedom of choice.