My first listen of this album was marred by poorly thought out surroundings and circumstances. It took place this Friday, after some very exhausting and long hours of work. During the long, long bus ride home I thought I should give this a try. The people around me were loud and I was so tired that I was actually considering falling asleep intentionally, on the bus. In the end, I didn’t, and not because of this album but because I was afraid someone might steal my phone, get into my RYM account and start crawling and posting in the comment boxes.
But really, if you’re not into the mood for it then this can be dreadfully uninteresting. On my second listen – another bus ride, with me being well rested and the rest of the people shutting up this time, the album seemed much livelier and enjoyable once I was actually ready to commit myself to it – the stuff I remembered as “OK” turned out to be quite more than OK (“Waterloo Lily”, “Aristocracy”), and the stuff that I remember as the only interesting stuff turned out to be quite… uneventful (“Nothing at All / It’s Coming Soon / Nothing at All (Reprise)” and “The Love in Your Eye / To Catch Me a Brother / Subsultus / Débouchement / Tilbury Kecks”) I guess?
Maybe uneventful is the wrong word though. There are beautiful moments in those two mammoth jams, particularly the jazzy, bouncy key-driven second half of the first one, as well as the first sections of the latter jam (that string melody is descended from heaven), but in both cases the whole thing just falls apart and feels unfocused with either extended periods of nothing much going on (the former) or extended periods of mediocrity (the latter). I’m of the opinion that the only fully developed proggy song on here is the opener/title track which, though guilty of losing steam towards the end, is a mirific display of guitar heaviness, backed by the most delicious of keyboard playing, courtesy of Steve Miller.
Besides the three jams mentioned above, the other three songs are nowhere near as overambitious or weird as the Prog/Canterbury rules demand. These tracks are Pop songs through and through, with the first of them “Songs & Signs” easily being the most forgettable and plain of the bunch, while “Aristocracy” and “The World Is Yours” are heavy, respectively sugary sweet affairs that easily stand out in the track listing. With no fluff and pompousness surrounding these tracks, “Aristocracy” succeeds and even manages to squeeze in the improvisational keyboard playing of Miller without sounding contrived, while “The World Is Yours” is built around a pretty dapper chord progression and the endearing, cute hook of “I love you / I’ve never loved someone like I do”. Very cute, actually.
The whole album is well suited for being taken in as a whole, yet the sound can get overbearing at times. In spite of the technically sound instrumental skills on display here (to reiterate what most people already mentioned: the bass), most of the improvisational sections feel aimless and unmemorable. Sure, they’re having fun, but it doesn’t seem to me as if they feed off of each other or are in sync as they are on “The World Is Yours” for instance. The opener is the obvious exception to the rule since, once again, it’s a pretty fuckin’ good track, and this is a pretty enjoyable album as well – I am quite glad that I gave it a second chance.
Key Tracks: “Waterloo Lily”, “Aristocracy”, “The World is Yours”
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When I’m not busy being a corporate drone, you’ll find me writing reviews and essays about music, video games, films and other nerd stuff encompassing all eras.