With a raging rhythm immediately distinguishing their passion from that of their closest rivals in and out of the American underground, alternative rock crew Number Prophets welcome us into their new EP Notes on the Crises with a bang, signaling much of what listeners can expect to hear in all four songs in the opening track “Uncomfortably Numb.” A reference to the Pink Floyd single “Comfortably Numb” that moves at a pace much faster than the classic cut off of The Wall ever could, don’t let its title fool you – “Uncomfortably Numb” is as anxious a groove-powered rock song as this group can muster without going completely off the rails. Their moxie alone makes this a credible listen, but what’s more is that it isn’t coupled with self-righteousness.
“The Ruins” slows things down for a moment only to open up a progressive flow that will eventually turn the audience over to the fire and brimstone-style beats near the two-minute mark in the song. This is probably the loftiest and most conceptual piece of material on the record, but it doesn’t aesthetically minimize the integrity of the other tracks at all – in fact, the exact opposite. There’s something to be said about the multilayered approach Number Prophets are taking to the fundamentals of pop/rock songwriting in songs like this one and, to a lesser degree, “The Valley,” both of which have the right style to make for choice singles if the group wishes to release them as such.
I found “The Valley” to be the most conventional song on Notes on the Crises, and when sandwiched between “The Ruins” and “Song for Mikey,” it serves as a nice calm in the midst of a powerful storm. “Song for Mikey” brings us to the conclusion of the record on a more somber note, alluding to the subjects of death, mortality and a self-awareness that comes with being one of the people left behind to process the loss, and while it’s a lot darker a look than the previous tracks present us with, its deeper meaning doesn’t get lost in the poetic details. I can’t say for certain, but if I had to guess, I’d say all four of the compositions on this EP came from a really personal place, which hasn’t been true of many rock albums or extended plays to hit the market in 2020.
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Number Prophets weren’t a band I was at all familiar with before getting introduced to their music with the release of Notes on the Crises, but now that I’ve been made aware of what they can do when their chemistry is left to simmer inside of a recording studio, I’ll be eagerly anticipating more music from their moniker in the near future. Any critics who have claimed that rock n’ roll was dead – or, at the very least, on its last legs – this season clearly haven’t been paying attention to the San Fran underground; otherwise, I think they would have thought twice upon discovering the music of this amazingly talented band.