"The pieces of the puzzle have finally come together and fit", declare the Oxford trio aiming to bepuzzle their listener.
To come up with a double album in the economy times is an ambitious move, but THE TREAT have been riding their ambition for a long time now, since "In Technicolor" colored the arid sonic landscape in 2003, and the retro-futurism of 2007's "Phonography". Those were tight records but the new one is sprawling and takes too many strains in to be whole, with allusions too obvious to savor. While the tasty opener "This Is The One" comes full of swagger, the following "Showtime" unashamedly lifts the hook of ELP's "Karn Evil 9"; that's as far as the band's previously infectious humor goes with titles such as "In My Own Time", the full-on progressive, Mariachi-tinged assault, and "Massive Attack", an alluring heavy metal smash.
It doesn't take away the sheer enjoyment of any given song - and who can resist the "Fan The Flames" gritty funk or the band's leader Michael Hyder's acoustic guitar-and-harmonium ripple on "On The Waterfront" from "Side Rock"? Yes, the album has not only two parts but also four sides as if it was on vinyl. The borders are blurred, still, with the "Silent Voices" Middle Eastern haze on "Side Electric", yet "Side Acoustic" sounds pure, if varied. There's "By The Sea", a folk-based ditty with a catchy banjo twang, and "Cycles", a tremendous groover with a Moroccan jive in its snake-like charm. Here's your aural truth of disc one; disc two, meanwhile, has "Farmer Hack's Tree" turning from the slide-awashed swampy blues into country rock and gaining weight as it progresses, and the similarly shaped powerful theatricality of "Citizen Of The World", plus vaudevillian "The Art Of Deception" which open "Side Experiment".
Too multicolored to digest at once, the album is best to be sipped slowly to let its wonders get under the skin. And they will creep in!