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You have to hear the Bad Plus's lush, lovely instrumental approach to Tears for Fears' hit "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." It's a slowly-evolving meditation on the tune that clearly is in love with its melody and structure. It might be the finest jazz cover of an '80s song since Miles Davis cut Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" back in the day. The other covers, especially their florid take on Rush's "Tom Sawyer," may be likely to get the most attention of anything on the album. But they rely too much on irony, on people's previous perceptions of the music, and do not seem quite as enamored of the original. They're jokes that are funny the first time but not so much the second or third. As with the Bad Plus' previous releases, the group's original compositions are the meat of the album: "Giant" and "Physical Cities" carve out huge walls of sonic space with abandon. This is rockist jazz, a postmodern fusion that relies greatly on tricky time signatures and mashups of seemingly incongruous sound. It's not likely this music will age spectacularly well, but so what? If you're looking for some engaging and conversation-inducing dinner music preceding an evening spent watching Napoleon Dynamite or any Wes Anderson flick, this is just the thing. --Mike McGonigal
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Top Customer Reviews
It is somewhat regrettable that there aren't more original compositions by the band on this record, since they're all great composers with their own individual voices. But, might I also remind you, that the jazz player composes in the moment, even if they didn't write the song itself.
The Bad Plus is a great presence on the musical scene today, especially in the Jazz idiom. They bring joy, exuberance, and incredible musicality to everything they do. You don't judge their music. It judges you.
In much of their past music they would let the sound devolve almost to chaos before meeting up again. For a lot of people, that was a real turn off. If you were one of those people, you may enjoy this album more than the previous ones. There is a much stronger focus on melody and interplay in Prog.
For me personally, I can listen to Prog on repeat non stop and never get tired of it. In particular I love the way Giant builds and sways and the way Life On Mars keeps you waiting for nearly the whole song before playing the chorus, creating an awesome moment of arrival. But every song on this album has something unique to offer.
If you're into groove oriented music that teases you with melody, you'll love this album. But if you prefer more straight up pop or swing The Bad Plus may be too out there for you. That said, a surprising number of my friends have really gotten into them, so I'd recommend giving Prog a listen!