[27th November 2012]
02. The Eternal German Infant
03. Mister Freeze
04. I Shall Consume Everything
The Tea Club are a progressive rock band from New Jersey, USA, started by brother duo Patrick and Daniel McGowan. After honing their sound, and releasing several EPs and a couple full length albums, The Tea Club (TTC) dropped their third full length album, titled Quickly Quickly Quickly, on November 27th last year. Had I stumbled upon this sooner, it easily would have made my Top Albums of 2012 list, as it is absolutely a prog rock masterpiece. It is complex when it needs to be without being at all difficult to listen to, and it knows when to back down and let gentle waves wash over the listener.
Consisting of only four tracks, and starting with the sprawling, near-eighteen minute-long epic, “Firebears“, this is not an album for those uninitiated into progressive rock fair. The musicianship is inventive, layered, and perfectly executed. The drumming on just the opening track is enough to make a name for drummer Joe Rizzolo; it is very Gavin Harrison-esque [Porcupine Tree, King Crimson], using subtlety and skill to create stunning fills and passages as well as having a few oddly timed rhythms, which end up sounding very satisfactory in the general mix of the music. The guitar parts are fluid and melodic, resulting in some very comforting sounding lead melodies, even when the music ramps up the intensity. Occasional nods to classic prog bands such as Yes, Genesis, and Camel as well as more post-rock influences are heard, but TTC manage to sound very unique and fresh.
The keyboards are sparse and gentle, but are woven nicely into the guitar parts to build wonderful textures in both the softer and more intense moments. The McGowan brothers share vocal duties, and both acquit themselves excellently. Their harmonies are beautiful, and their individual passages showcase brilliant, soulful, and varied singing from both. It is easy to tell they really feel passionate about their music and the lyrics that they write.
Lyrically, Quickly Quickly Quickly is quite complex, with one song, “The Eternal German Infant“, using acrostic poetry for its refrain. The song seems to tell some sort of fairy tale in a style similar to that of Magical Mystery Tour-era The Beatles. The language is strange, vibrant, and pleasing to the ear, and the music fits the words; floaty and happy, but not afraid to turn up the tension and intensity.
“Mister Freeze” is by far the calmest song on the album. It has a few moments that are almost post rock in between serene acoustic passages interspersed with keyboard swells, and a few darker sounding sections.
The Tea Club are a fantastic prog rock band, and Quickly Quickly Quickly is certainly one of the top prog records of the last few years. It is modern sounding, without forgetting where its roots are. Utilizing magnificent musicianship, skilful songwriting, and a brilliant lyrical mind, this album is a unique musical journey into a strange, peaceful landscape, and stands as one of the top albums released in 2012.