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Wray | Stream of Youth / Blank World

The cover would fit a prog-rock epic. The band is more like R.E.M. Go figure.

Great album covers are pretty hard to come by these days. But this double-sided concept album from Alabama outfit Wray delivers not one but two gems — both painted by Peruvian fantasist Boris Vallejo. But if you’re expecting some vintage space-rock epics or high-flying prog excursions to go with that art, think again: Stream of Youth / Blank World has a more modern sound, fusing elements of synth-rock, dream-pop, post-punk and psychedelia. Toss in singer-bassist David Brown’s hazy vocals and you have a sound not unlike a nerdier R.E.M. Go figure.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Fantasy and science-fiction are often treated as an escape from reality, but in the heart of those fantastic worlds lie prescient truths about our world. On the other side of that coin, some of the world’s greatest aesthetic beauty comes in the form of raw science. The new album from Birmingham, Alabama’s Wray vibrates at the intersection of those dichotomies and others — hope and pessimism, wild and composed, joy and pain. There is no light without dark, no dark without light, a concept which birthed the dual record Stream of Youth / Blank World. “A lot of people hang on to the idea that we can have some kind of utopia some day, that human beings will evolve to a pure state. But if the human race could start over, would things look any different?” says bassist/vocalist David Brown. Along with bandmates Blake Wimberly (drums) and David Swatzell (guitars), Brown felt fueled by their status in a blue city in a red state, in the American south with its morally complex past, in a modernity fueled by conflict and difference. Though they only planned on recording a pair of songs, they came away with a full album, but one separated into two clear halves: Stream of Youth holds the record’s hopeful tracks, while Blank World comprises the fatalistic songs.”