Primitive Instinct - Belief

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Hidden Charm
Catalog Number: PICD006
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:15:00

From the opening notes of the first track on my very first listen I knew I was going to like this. Rarely does that happen. But there is also a very strong sense of familiarity - I couldn't help but think of Marillion, circa mid-90s. It's not so much that Primitive Instinct sound like Marillion, but there is a similarly directed energy, a similarity in arrangement and feel. Vocalist Nick Sheridan only occasionally sounds like Steve Hogarth, though. Other bands that came to mind were Grey Lady Down, Mike And The Mechanics, and Genesis. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot more you can about their sound. It is pleasant, mid-tempo progressive pop, only occasionally with a slight edge. Squeeze also comes to mind, and this is probably the strongest comparison.

Although the first track listed is "A Little Bit OF Shek" (and it is just that, as it is a bit of "Shekhakim," the sixth song in), the first full track is "Break On Through," which has a catchy chorus that is only surpassed by the catchiness of "Ideology." It is almost as if its 1985 again. Guitars jangle, drums pound out a perky tattoo, bass lines thrum, and Sheridan's voice bounces cheerily along. The message itself isn't very cheery, using phrases such as "caught within the clutches of our ideology" and "slaves of this new technology." "Finding My Way" is an acoustic based track, that, as I listen again, wouldn't seem out of place on the album of some so-called modern rock band's album - Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Deep Blue Something. But it also sounds a bit like the Blind Faith classic "Can't Find My Way Home," and given the title I can't help but think that's the idea. "Hope" is a slowly unfolding track, where you know the visuals would have to be in slo-motion. "Shekhakim" is an epic track, starting out understated, breaking out into an open chorus. And yet, it remains tightly wound, that even the release is no release. It is the kind of dynamics that most make me think of Marillion. "Praying For Rain" is more general commentary from the band, here looking at the conflicts that divide us as a species - if you think of headlines of the last few years, you will find general references to Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, the "Irish Troubles," etc. The band makes a rather bold statement by distilling these differences in opinion down to the core: "fighting for this stupid piece of dirt." It's our beliefs that provide the justification (accurate or not) for our conflicts, and often beliefs of a religious nature. And yet, it is just dirt we're talking about, it meaning or significance only what we give it.

All this seems very safe with the messages couched in such comfortable terms. The music seems very polished, perhaps too much so. The soft edges of "All That I Need" seem much softer when contrasted against the tracks around it. I find myself wanting the song to have a little bit more bite. Marillion fans can compare this with much of Holidays In Eden. If some of the earlier tracks had more musical bite, perhaps this would be fine. It's not a bad song, and not knowing anything else about the band, perhaps this is the softer they've been. It is followed by another low key track, "Freedom," which tends to make these last two tracks blend together. The middle section picks up the pace, and perks up the ears. Harsh, angular tones give the track a little muscle (I thought a bit of King Crimson's "Dinosaur"). What it does do effectively is reflect the rhythm of the road. Being in California, I picture long stretches of desert highway, with nothing for miles but distant mountains, acres of shrubs and cacti ... images of freedom. "Chosen Few" pick things up, upping the tempo a bit; drawing one out of the malaise the other tracks can lull you into.

Criticisms aside, I do rather like Belief. Those who are into mellower rock, where an acoustic feel is appealing, will also like this. This is music stripped down it's essentials - no extraneous keyboard figures, no guitar wankery, overpowering drumming, just clean, solid, playing from a band who clearly know what it is they want to do, want to say, and how they want get it done.

A Little Bit Of Shek (1:13) / Break On Through (7:13) / Ideology (4:59) / Finding My Way (5:11) / Hope (4:57) / Shekhakim (7:37) / Praying For The Rain (8:19) / Crashing Down (4:02) / All That I Need (5:33) / Freedom (5:46) / Chosen Few (9:25)

Nick Sheridan - vocals, guitar, and keyboards
Pic - bass, backing vocals
Chris Brown - drums, backing vocals
Andy Quinnell - add. keyboards (3, 9, 11)

Floating Tangibility (1994)
Ice For Eskimos (CD-R) (1998)
Belief (2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: June 13th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2257
Language: english


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