Test Your Reflex: The Burning Hour

Posted by Gmurray on 07/30/2007, 09:09 PM

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Test Your Reflex proves that rock still sizzles with The Burning Hour


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The artwork on the front of The Burning Hour by Test Your Reflex looks like a packet designed by the people who do Nine-Inch Nails.  A jellyfish mirrored and in shades of yellow/red gives the feeling of dangerous music.  The band photos in the booklet reflect back to mid-era Beatles pictures something from around the Rubber Soul/Revolver recordings. The band consists of Ryan Levine (vocals), Andrew Ampaya (keyboards), Agustin Sanchez (bass), Clarke (guitar) and Sal Cortez (drums).  The entire feel of The Burning Hour package is of the best of timeless rock. 

The recording opens with “I’m Not Sorry” and a pleading vocal that sounds like The Replacements.  The chorus of “Close your eyes, baby and take the time to choose/What is it you want to do/’Cause I’m not sorry” gives all the sadness of a bruised relationship.  “Pieces of the Sun” comes across as a lost Soft Cell song.  It has that hard beat with mystic guitar work.  The hook of “Every little thing I promised you I’ll make it come true/I’m not ready to stop” grabs and never lets go.

“Thinking of You” is so much like a Cure track, with chord progressions and a nice jump in the bass line.  The simple keyboard line sends a shiver down the spine.  It is an ‘easy to dance to’ song.  “New Year” has a great beat, fun and poppy, and a great hook of “Wait, Wait, Wait” that pulls one into singing along. The guitar does a very simple two-chord bridge that gives the single a sense of urgency in an INXS fashion.

Swirling sounds and heavy tom-toms start “I am Alive” a song that is a distant cousin of just about any track off Don’t Tell a Soul with just as hard of a chorus.  With a Clash bit of finger play, “Black Hearts” comes off as a cross between a track from Combat Rock and a Reach The Beach Fixx tune.  “Do we Belong” makes the most of beseeching vocals and a melodic piano but the guitar roars much in more in common with The Edge.

“I Won’t Follow” is a piano heavy ballad about loss. “So leave if you wanna leave/Change if you wanna change/Go where you wanna go/I won’t follow” sums up the relationship.  “This Year (if we fall in love)” is one of those September songs, a tune that rings in the new school year with the promise of new adventures and new love.  If I were in charge of a pop/rock station, this would be the #1 new music song of the Fall.  In a box full of hooks, this one is the big bob. 

“I Know You’re Lonely” goes back to Cure territory with a pseudo techno beat and remorseful lyrics.  The bass line is very melodic.  The Burning Hour ends with “Painted Red”, a song that finds a very dark place and stays buried there.  “I wanna scream, scream, scream/ Oh so you can hear” is a bitter dark chocolate bite to finish off this box of treats.

In the of simplest terms, there is not a bad track on The Burning Hour.  There is not even a song on this disc that doesn’t sound like a radio friendly hit.  These eleven songs could easily be a part of any radio station.  Some smart programmer of “Alternative Rock” should give Test Your Reflex a shot and break this band nationally.  This is perfect ear candy and shouldn’t be missed.


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