Simon – son of Phil! – Collins has quietly carved a niche for himself within the modern progressive rock scene, mainly as a member of the band Sound of Contact; here, helming his own solo project, he portrays a more singular character; at times unable to escape the lengthy shadow of his father (especially on the vituperative Thoughts Become Matter, where you can hear ol’ easy lover himself chuntering away against a jagged, Land of Confusion style background) for the most part Collins is resolutely his own man.
Indeed, if you’re looking for easy comparisons of sound and mood, Collins has more in common with prog renaissance man Steven Wilson; the scittery, percussive I Will Be Waiting could easily have found a home on Porcupine Tree‘s Lightbulb Sun as jagged guitars (courtesy, I think, of Sound of Contact’s Kelly Avril Nordstrom) cut across the electronic drum barrages laid down by our protagonist. It’s accomplished, self assured stuff, and fans of prog as it is made and consumed in 2020 will surely lap this up.
The album’s poppiest track, No Love, brings a bit of the Killers into the mix, but generally the more melodic moments here are redolent of that time in the early eighties when accomplished musos like Nik Kershaw and Kajagoogoo‘s Nick Beggs smuggled their virtuoso skills onto kids TV via the gift of good, old-fashioned musicianship. The quietly catchy Living In Silence is proof of this, as is the pure pop mastery of So Real, and if Becoming Human is anything then it is the work of supremely accomplished, experienced musicians who have delivered entirely on expectation. Just like the old days from whence much of this album takes it’s musical cues.
It’s very easy to be cynical about celebrity offspring; but the bottom line with Becoming Human is that it is the work of someone who is very definitely a top notch singer-songwriter in their own right. Everything else should come second, and the quality of the material to be found here ensures that that is the case with this album.
Becoming Human is out now.