If you had to choose a band for the title of “best cult act of the past decade”, Trail Of Dead would happily fit that bill. It has been a good ten years now since the driving force that is Conrad Keely, together with Jason Reece, released the critically acclaimed “Source Tags And Codes”, with follow- up “Worlds Apart” almost matching the same quality. But recent efforts have found them slowly trying to regain their past reputation following the rather underwhelming “So Divided”. Last year they put out “Tao Of The Dead” which showed signs they were almost back on track, and with the newly- released “Lost Songs”, all the pieces may just have been put back in place again.
Their trademark prog noise rock sound is very evident on this album but for no reason in particular, it just feels a lot more natural this time round. The first track “Open Doors” is a great reminder that there simply isn’t another act around that can execute the same sound as “Trail Of Dead”. “Pinhole Cameras” and “Up To Infinity” are fine examples of how they demonstrate mid-paced build ups, whilst striking the right balance when it comes to elongated prog tunes alongside straight forward alt-rock numbers. “Flower Card Games” and “A Place To Rest” are two further examples of this. Perhaps the highlight to be found here is the quirky “Catatonic”, combining belligerent and urgent guitar tones whilst spreading an array of not- so- hidden messages. You may have seen the video where Reece plays the role of a supposed failed presidential candidate named “Rich Dobney”(no clues needed as to who that is referencing!) Following that, “Bright Young Things” is another great attempt at “angular” and anthemic rock and roll. The only song that could be considered a filler on this record would be closing track “Time And Again”, which was a bit of a limp note to end on and suggested that they were running thin on ideas by this stage.
It may have taken a while for the band to regain some of their former glory but finally we have a Trail Of Dead record that sits high alongside their earlier work. Although it may not match the quality of their very best, with this album the acclaimed duo have sought to raise the bar again. Welcome back guys!