Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Envy of None, That Was Then, This Is Now

With the spirit of Rush still prominent in the background, it was probably the best thing for Alex Lifeson to do something completely different from anything he did in the forty years with Rush, and Envy of None is the result. Their eponymously titled debut album in 2022 had a dark, ambient almost dreamy feel, and was by some distance removed from anything Rush had ever released. 

The follow-up release That Was Then, This Is Now is an EP of only five songs, of which only one is new. It’s made up of two songs which were on their debut album but have been remixed, alongside two pieces which had previously only been available on the Deluxe edition of the debut album. The only newly recorded song is the title track. 

This EP is definitely not for the hardcore Rush fan as the usage of synth and electronica goes beyond anything the band ever produced, even in the eighties. Ambient electronica pervades all five songs but it’s gentle, laid back and atmospheric, rather than harsh and grating, with guitar taking the backseat and overlaying the music is the sensual, ethereal tones of Maiah Wynne, whose gorgeous voice carries throughout the whole EP.

‘Dumb’ and ‘A Dog’s Life’ have both been remixed from the debut album, with the latter having a little more intensity added. It’s a little longer this time around and, to these ears, with what sounds like real drums being played on a track which could have been written by Rush.

‘Lethe River’ and ‘You’ll Be Sorry’ are both drenched in drum machine and synths, with Lifeson’s guitar used sparingly to great effect. The latter sees a fabulous vocal performance from Maiah Wynne, saying “Turn away from me, you’ll be sorry, see what I can be”. ‘That Was Then‘ again sounds as though real drums were used and is the only track to feature Lifeson playing a solo, one which shows sensitivity rather than heaviness.

In summary, Envy Of None shouldn’t be defined by their past bands (Rush/Coney Hatch), they’re more than the sum of their parts. I’m not usually a fan of synths/electronica but Envy Of None, with Maiah Wynne’s haunting voice added, have found a way to make it work.    

That Was Then, This Is Now releases June 9th via Kscope

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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With the spirit of Rush still prominent in the background, it was probably the best thing for Alex Lifeson to do something completely different from anything he did in the forty years with Rush, and Envy of None is the result. Their eponymously titled...Envy of None, That Was Then, This Is Now