Reviewing their first album Hybrid Child, there was a question I wanted to ask, but never did. How did vocalist Leslie Hunt go from an American Idol finalist and cutting an album of basically pop rock to singing in a prog rock band? The inquiry is rather moot at this point since Hunt had a rather impressive performance on D97's first effort, and does again on their second release, Trouble With Machines. I would imagine she might find the prog context a greater challenge to her abilities.
Fundamentally, Hunts vocals work well with the melodies and complexities of District 97's progressive rock. They effortlessly compliment each other, which is quite striking. Back and Forth and The Perfect Young Man (featuring Asia's John Wetton) are perfect examples of this smart union.
Like its predecessor, Trouble With Machines is probably best heard as crossover prog, offering also the popularity of melodic rock. By example, shorter tunes like Open Your Eyes or Who Cares, while still intriguing, are not overly complex, and play with some friendly accessibility. Then, on the wonderful Read Your Mind, all these elements combine in a perfect package. This song also features Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn who also played on Hybrid Child.
In the end, Trouble With Machines is still an album of modern progressive rock, and a very good one at that. Quite recommended.