This album removes any sense of doubt as to whether or not ISO’s sound progression was really large enough to warrant a name change too. “Passages” expresses ISO’s new pop-orientated identity well.
It opens strongly with ‘Never Going Back’, which showcases Richard Brokensha’s truly incredible vocal ability – it’s melodic and catchy and features haunting backing vocals which add to its musical complexity. Second track ‘Give Me Something to Believe’ is another powerful one that has an anthemic sing-along quality to it. These first two songs lured me into a state of nostalgia as they were so reminiscent of the “old” ISO (see: Isochronous, a band that provided the soundtrack to many of my high school days).
My nostalgia did not last long. ‘The Place That I Know’ features heavy synth samples and a techno-sounding drum line, perhaps more in line with their new classification as “smart pop”. But it’s ‘Signs’ that’s probably the best track on the album, featuring beautiful harmonies and somewhat desperate lyrics like: “I tried no one was listening/no one was helping.”
If you bought “Passages” with the expectation of being able to add it to one, big coherent playlist alongside their discography, you’re going to disappointed. There are remnants of the ISO of old during various vocal interludes, and it’s because of these remnants that I find “Passages” worth several spins.