Lunear – Many Miles Away Review
Lunear is a French pop-rock band with a distinct progressive sound. This sound can be summarized in a sentence by a quote from the keyboardist Paul J. No: “I loved the idea of doing a simple pop song and mixing it with some obscure bridge.” This sound is induced by the heavy synth use and is supported by distortion guitar melodies and vocals that remind us of 80s rock bands. The band released their debut album “Many Miles Away” in 2018. The trio first started to come together when Paul J. No and Sebastien Bournier, who have been working together for nearly 20 years, decided to write together. They wrote 8 songs and then added Jean-Philippe Benadjer to the band to complete the 10 track record. The band is currently working on a new album set to release soon. It will be called “Curve. Axis. Symmetry.” A single from the album is available on all platforms. Do check it out!
Sebastien Bournier – drums, vocals, lyrics, and music
Paul J. No – keys, lead vocals, music
Jean Philippe Benadjer – guitars, bass, vocals, mixing
“Closed Doors“ is a song about “what-if.” What if you didn’t choose that way but the other? It’s a song about regrets and getting over those regrets. The “closed doors” refer to decisions that have already been made, and can not be changed. The song starts off with a dreamy Genesis-like synth intro, and builds off of a distorted hard rock riff that is almost a representation of the bitter truth laid in front of us.
“In Between“ sounds almost happy, yet the lyrics are as dark as it can get. It discusses the songwriter’s loneliness and incompatibility. He can not fit himself in any regular category, and can not get people to notice him. This premise is reminiscent of “Luminol” by Steven Wilson, which is about a man that has become a ghost while still alive. The music, at first glance, sounds very simple. The chord progression may be unfamiliar to those who have only listened to 1-4-5 or 2-5-1 progressions. The most interesting part is what is “in between” 2 parts of the song, the bridge! It is in 4/4, but repeats every 7 bars. The chords are unusual, yet the melody on top is very simple, making it easy to listen and appreciate.
“A Last Time For Everything“ is just about that: everything has an end. The acoustic guitar intro adds a very moody atmosphere to the song, and the slow tempo, the few-note guitar “solo” at the end, and the keyboards all support it. Then, the borrowed major chords hit, which creates a feeling of hope. Transitioning between sad and hopeful without changing the music much, makes a new interpretation arise: We should live our remaining days to the fullest because we don’t know when they will end.
“Just Another Song About That Girl” is the band’s attempt to replicate (and make a little fun of) all those catchy love songs about the perfect girl, from the usual 4 chord opening progressions to the 80’s synth sounds. If you don’t pay attention to the lyrics, you might as well think that this is “just another song about that girl”, which shows, apart from the band’s wittiness, how good they fitted a whole genre of music into one song.
“Heaven?” actually makes you ponder about the subject at hand with the intriguing questions that Sébastien Bournier directs at the listener. The song has maybe the most bizarre intro from the album, with the blend of drums and the bass. The vocals afterwards resemble the Moody Blues, especially in the chorus. The repeating lyrics in the second section reminded me of John Lennon’s “God” (interestingly, both touch upon the subject of religion). The song reaches another level with Benadjer’s guitar solo: though he doesn’t wander away too much from the main melody, he adds another musical layer to the song’s structure.
“Don’t Be Scared” has, as the band themselves put it, “a strong Steven Wilson influence”. Although the use of a 12 string guitar in modern prog generally resembles Mike Rutherford’s style, Lunear achieves a much darker atmosphere. The lyrics take the form of a conversation between a father and son, a very personal one indeed. The ambient sounds create a collage of the war and pain, which we are exposed to every day through the news. It’s a clever way to connect the lyrics with the music to create a coherent story. The heavy section that comes afterward features a painful bluesy guitar solo by Benadjer and you can clearly see the Pink Floyd influence (especially the transition in “Money”). After the guitar, this time Paul J. No uses an intense and searing synth to create the emotional solo which puts the song together. And the band’s final message in the end (from a lyrical context, the father’s last message to his son) is much more optimistic than a Steven Wilson song, which maybe is a way for Lunear to separate themselves from their influences.
In the middle of two of the record’s most powerful songs sits the record’s title track: “So… Many…” Lyrically, the song is a complement of the first track, “Closed Doors”. The main idea, as we interpreted, is leaving the past behind and looking at the future instead. It talks about a radical change in one’s life, which many of us experience. The mellow, warm grand piano is the main element, while the bass creeps out from behind with delightful licks. During the verse, every 5 bars, 2 bars are left blank for the bass to make an appearance. It seems the band likes to use this technique of a 4/4 melody with an odd number of bars to create familiarity for both the prog and pop audience.
“Conflagration” is a very energizing song due to the abundance of synths throughout. From the very beginning, you can hear the layers of synths slowly building over each other. Bournier’s lyrics, on the other hand, paints a darker picture. It’s a man’s inner dialogue as he desperately tries to escape from a building on fire. Every second, the flames get higher and closer, which actually explains the song’s structure of never slowing down.In the end, it is revealed that the man, thankfully, is saved from the wreath of the songwriter 🙂
“You Owe Me Nothing” is, compared with the other tracks, a simpler song. It grabs your attention with the heavy bass notes that No lays out on the piano, and the addition of Bournier’s easy-going drums (sidestick is really the perfect choice) creates, as Benadjer said, a “simple” and “light” pop song about the end of a love story. It’s important to add that the song features Bournier as lead vocals. After “Conflagration”, the song seems like a contrast as we get closer to the end.
The last song of the album, ironically called “Fresh Start”, is the longest track with a total of 8 minutes. The song is very atmosphere-based so the length is somewhat justified. From the opening, the eery cellos, arranged by Paul J. No, blending with the steady piano riff, which keeps the rhythm together, takes the listener to a world different from the other songs in the album. Since there aren’t many instruments to fill the space, the lyrics stands out with its directness which is caused by the use of imperative statements. As the piano and cello explore dark chords and even darker emotions, we are left to contemplate on the lyrics. Being the first song that Sébastien and Paul worked on, it carries an intimacy with it. Taking the approach of “less is more”, the band tells us a lot more by creating a soundscape rather than a typical song.