Nemesis is a delight from start to finish. I genuinely have nothing bad to say about this album. At all. After complaining that the last few albums didn’t have enough of the Prof’s mad-science/steampunk roots, this is exactly what I had been looking and hoping for.
After the opening couple of tracks where the Prof’s life seems simply SPLENDID (‘Show Stopper’, ‘It’s Great to Be Me’) the story picks up from the end of the School of Whimsy album with the Prof and his mansion still trapped in some strange nether dimension (‘Something Really Bad Happens’).
He discovers that the last few years of his life have been nothing but a hallucination as he is kept locked outside of time and space, watched over by his lone jailer, Constable Problem, who blames the Prof’s meddling for the erasure of his wife from the timeline (‘Keeping Things Ticking Over’, ‘An Officer and a Mental Man’).
The album follows the Professor and Geoffrey as they make their way through the mansion in the hopes of being able to escape. They encounter a variety of other occupants along the way, not all of whom are exactly happy to see the Prof.
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There’s an encounter with something distinctly gooey in the basement (‘What Lies Beneath’), some tin soldiers in the attic that aren’t particularly happy with him either (‘The Return to the Attic’), and a collection of villains including Mandrill Friday, Eli Watts and Lobsterdamus (‘Have at Thee’).
There are plenty of other songs beyond the ones mentioned here, but to avoid spoilers we’ll leave those to be discovered. The story presented is genuinely good fun and it would be a shame to ruin it. There are also a couple of somewhat more throw-away songs which, while not specifically connected to the overarching plot, are still a damn good time.
There’s the Prof extolling the value of our local libraries (‘I Love Libraries’), and a toe-tapping, bouncy song about the simple delights of enjoying a nice hot bath (‘In the Bath’), and the album ultimately wraps up with another uplifting little tune (‘All For You’) before the Prof is left to contemplate his future and his next adventure (‘Epilogue’).
The album is produced, as ever, by long-time collaborator, the inimitable Mr Tom Caruana and features vocals from a smorgasbord of additional talent including DrSyntax, Ella Jean, Hattie Snooks, Ashley Slater, Mr Kapow and many others. A particular standout is Adam Felman who provides our antagonist, Constable Problem, with a deep, growling voice that’s quite a contrast to the familiar vocal stylings of the Prof.
Nineteen tracks long and with a running time of fifty-three minutes Nemesis is one of the longest albums in the Prof’s discography. It is also the best album he’s put out in recent years and any self-respecting chap-hop or steampunk fan should have it in their collection.