Album of the week: Slug Comparison dials things back to a less harsh time

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      Slug Comparison
      When You Were Living Here

      Somewhere along the line—right around the time Coheed and Cambria, Protest the Hero, and the Mars Volta were all vying for world supremacy—prog rock morphed into a maximum-overdrive arms race. Forget making something melodic and listenable; it was all about notes-per-minute delivered with brute-force velocity. When You Were Living Here dials things back to a less harsh time.

      Singer-guitarist Doug Harrison—who performs solo under the moniker Slug Comparison—formerly fronted Victoria’s Fen, a unit that wasn’t afraid to go the acoustic route. Although he’s happy to have this 12-song release filed under “prog”, the songs swing from post-Mumford folk (“Let Some Light”) to plaintive reveries (the strings-adorned remembrance “When You Were Living Here”) to heartland-lite ballads (“Becoming”).

      The connecting thread is the way Harrison sounds ever-optimistic. (Two tracks are dedicated to the memory of a friend and former roommate, Eric Rose).

      When You Were Living Here starts off with “Exactly What to Do”, in which he sings “I’m outta work, it’s an incredible high/All day creating my own musical ride.”

      For most of us, that would be a case of “Be careful what you wish for.” Harrison, on the other hand, couldn’t sound more thrilled—suggesting that Slug Comparison might very well be nothing less than his dream job. Look out, Coheed and Cambria.