I've just bought this album yesterday, and it surprised me - in a good way. Before hearing I thought Pendragon had had their day
since the album "the Masquerade Overture". Luckily, I was wrong. But I'll get one with the review.
The album gets off to an excellent start with fanfare style organs from Clive Nolan on the first track "Everything", before the guitar
comes in and bursts into song. This is, in my opinion, one of the best and most important songs on the album as many of it's motifs
are repeated in other songs on the album. Anyway, it's a great song and brilliant intro.
"Everything" then flows into "Starfish and the Moon", a quiet, simple song featuring only piano and a soft guitar solo in the middle -
and Nick Barrett's excellent vocals, of course. The quiet is undisturbed as the next song, the 8-minute opus "Truth and Lies", comes in
with more of that soft guitar - do not be deceived, however, as it soon flows into an harrowing guitar solo - in my opinion, the best on
the album. As the harsh, storminess of "Truth and Lies" fades away, a mandolin comes in, signifying the begin of "360 Degrees". After
the first verse, the drums enter with bombast pronouncing a happy violin melody. The entire song is inspired by the sea, which would
make sense as Nick Barrett is curently living in Cornwall. In fact, the entire album seems sea-orientated - even the cover.
As "360 Degrees" fades away, in comes "Soul and the Sea" - probably the most musically varied track. It begins, like "Truth and Lies",
with a soft guitar. Soon the violin comes in and then the drums, followed by somewhat whispered vocals; until all of a sudden it
breaks down into a short piano motif. Then, thunderous guitar and drums enter, the vocals now loud and clear, until it fades out with
an acoustic guitar.
After "Soul and the Sea" ends, "Eternal Light" begins with a soft but soon loud guitar. After the first lyrics, a motif from "Everything"
comes in - and after that, more lyrics, an instrumental section, then yet more lyrics, then the end. I've barely described it there - it is as
varied and complex as "Soul and the Sea" - but "Soul and the Sea" gets the most complex prize, as it is much shorter.
Then - "Water" - another long song at seven minutes long. It begin only with a soft, sad guitar, but continues to build up and up as the
song goes on, with a great, harsh guitar solo not dissimilar to "Truth and Lies". The album continues with "Whirlwind", a fairly short
piano song, that fades into the longest track - "Who Really Are We" - that begins with a thunderous guitar riff, which descends into an
acoustic passage with drums, but then breaks down - and builds up again with that thunderous guitar riff with added solo. The final
lyrics come in, and then...
"Afraid of Everything", the final track. It enters with a fairly soft guitar, builds up, then swirls out with a beautiful synth solo. A brilliant
outro to a brilliant album.
So, to sum up... I didn't want to have my first album review to be five stars for some reason, but here I am forced to. It has both the
two requirements I consider for a five star album:
1. The songs are all great. In the words of Special Collaborator chopper, "not a duff track in sight".
2. It works brilliantly as an album. It flows well from song to song, and many songs share motifs.
So... five stars.