The world of Progressive Rock music has always been something that has intrigued me, but has intimidated me for the longest of time. I’m a huge fan of music that contains epic arrangements and sweeping symphonic moments, but for some reason I have yet to fully appreciate the technicality and precision that this genre of music roots itself in. That’s where the Norwegian eight piece Alternative Pop Orchestra, Meer come in. Throughout their sophomore record, Playing House, the group captivates audiences with their huge, anthemically rich sound that feels fresh, inventive and exciting.
Sometimes, first impressions are deceiving, but on the first track of the record, ‘Picking Up the Pieces’, this is most certainly not the case, as the band delivers this massive intro that feels like it should take place in the middle of the album, but the group decides to fire at all cylinders straight from the beginning. I could not believe how rich our vocalist sounded on this opening track. Everything comes together so well, and there are so many highlights on this album, that it feels kind of belittling to the group to single one of these integral pieces out, but I just was blown away by the first time I heard Johanne Kippersund’s voice, and this becomes more apparent through this song, as we survey over this musical terrain that is delicate and powerful all at the same time. Again, when it comes to groups that sound like this, it is so hard to pick out key performances, because the group as a whole is very technically skilled, they all deserve their own paragraph, but this review would be far too long if I did this. This track is such a bold start off to the album and I was a little scared that it was going to be a one off of brilliance, and I am so glad my assumption was wrong.
‘Beehive’ is an outstanding second track, and my favorite off of the entirety of the record. It has all of the elements of our first track, but with a more enigmatic and unbelievable one two punch, with our vocals and our string lines throughout this tack. This track is so powerful throughout and by the end of it my heart just drops, because I never knew it was possible to have something that sounded so gorgeous sound so loud at the same time. I am telling you, there is so much brilliance throughout Playing House that must be experienced and not explained. This crew has blown me away with two of the strongest opening tracks I have heard this year.
Although I would argue the first two tracks on this particular record are my favorite off of the entirety of the album, that doesn’t discredit the rest of Playing House as being a write off, because all of these songs do stand on their own, thanks to the melodies that the group is able to create, and their overall shifting emotions throughout the entirety of the record. Playing House is a showcase of how to take elements that people typically don’t see together and take these inspirations and running with them into new territories. This is a group who is taking from Progressive rock, Pop, Alternative Rock, and Orchestral music and making this mind-bending work of art while blending these genres together. Typically, I attach myself to records that I feel are forward thinking and propel their style of music forward, and I can safely say Meer is at the forefront of this.
Playing House is a fantastic example of a group of brilliant musicians getting together to create something that yearns to be appreciated by a wider audience, and I really hope they find it. Nothing I have heard this year excites me more than this project, blending Orchestral and Choral music together with more contemporary genres like Alternative Rock and Pop music is not something that is easy, nor is it something that most people would think of doing. They put all of these elements in a blender, along with their love of Progressive Rock, and the end result is this perfect blend of elements that lead one another to this fully realized sound that would make most groups jealous. Meer deserves so much credit for their forward thinking record, and I hope people catch on to it, because I could see so many people gravitating towards this.
Favorite Tracks: Beehive, Picking Up the Pieces
Least Favorite Track: Where Do We Go From Here
Listen to the track 'Beehive', from Meer's latest album, Playing House, below: