Flower Kings-Paradox Hotel // review (oh you knew it was coming)
First off, this is an excellent album. There's already been some talk about this CD on this board. I haven't reviewed an FK album since Space Revolver, which I liked it OK, but it wasn't a grower. I didn't appreciate the new age flourishes and jazzy saprano sax. Or the hippy dippy lyrics. Or Stolts sometimes corny vocal delivery. Or the slightly misused cultural references.
I'm happy to report that things have changed for the better, IMO. I've paroused their output since then (over the course of the last few years) and not only has Stolt reeled in those over-the-top vox, but they've also reigned in those dopey new age embellishments, and their lyrics have slowly gone from hoplelessly optimistic to preachy, to jaded, and now, songs like Jealousy, Mommy Leave The Light On, and Bavarian Skies, are somewhat dark.
Not that dark lyrics bother me, but a song like Bavarian Skies could backfire on them. I understand that its just an artistic statement, but what if some yea-hoo gets a hold of it...what if this song is the first song someone ever hears from FK? Myself, I think it is totally out of place on this album. They coulda let this be on disc two, and put one the other killer tracks on disc one, like the title track, or Life Will Kill You, or just leave it off completely. It wouldn't be a FK album without some cringe inducing moments. For this one, its Bavarian Skies.
Unorthadox Dancing Lesson (an instrumental number) is OK, but only interests me for about three minutes. Minus this track, and the afore mentioned Bavarian Skies, this is a superb ablum that seems to question our existance while still lavishing gorgeous melodies upon you. Although the use of 'astronaut radio chatter' is by now "old hat", it isn't too much of a distraction and seems to carry the central theme. That being said, this is not a concept album (thank God).
But don't worry, this music couldn't be mistaken for anyone else but FK. I kinda wish they would have kept this one to single disc, just for the sake of having only one a killer album to digest, but even at its considerable length, it contains some great stuff. I like that it eschews jazz trappings of the past and resembles some of the best prog 'rock' that ever came out of the '70s. This is a more straight forward 'rock' oriented album, though some may miss psuedo-psychadelia of earlier works. It kinda reminds me of the first Transatlantic album, SMPTe.
They've had better songs on other albums, especially the epic length tunes of the past, but this is their most consistant album IMO. Both Stolt and Froberg deliver their finest vocal performance, the band is tight as ever and lyrically speaking, its their most coherent effort. This might be a good album to introduce the uninitiated to The Flower Kings, though it may not win over anyone who professed a strong dislike of the band in the past. I wasn't a diehard fan before either, but I can't stop listening to this album. Great cover art as well, (though it isn't terribly original). Highly recommended.
Last edited by 3-LockBox; 04-22-2006 at 12:07 AM.
Good review, but I need to listen to the set many more times before I really get into it.
I still like all the other material just as much, except Wallstreet Voodoo, it's ho-hum to me.
I have also been digging Thomas Bodin's I AM release, it's very very good.
I've really disliked the last few FK albums. Wallstreet Voodoo was a REAL bore, wow. There wasn't a song on it that engaged me. I sold it off. Ditto Adam and Eve. I never connected with it. Many pepole complain about this band releasing 150 minute 2 disc sets where half of it is filler. Both of these 2 disc sets felt like 100% filler to me.
Comparisons of this new one to their earlier releases are heartening, but I'm still a little skeptical. I can only imagine how cheesy Bavarian Skies could be. LOL
Adam & Eve
I really didn't like Adam & Eve at first, but the 20 minute Love Supreme is classic Flower Kings, up there with the best of their epic tunes, although a bit repetitive. I also came to really like A Vampire's View, and the theatrical approach to the delivery. Very original and overly dark for the FKs.
Originally Posted by Troy
But it's the dark stuff that they fail on. There's a Disneyfied, campyness to these songs that falls flat for me. A hokey, "Lets Pretend!" quality. Remember the concentration camp song on "World of Adventures?" Sooooo cheesey and bad. As 3LB says, most albums have one of these kindsa songs.
Originally Posted by BarryL
Originally Posted by BarryL
I also think that Love Supreme is a killer track, and as good as any epic length tune in their canon. I also like most of the short songs; Adam & Eve is somewhat intersting to me musically at least, but I'm not crazy about the vocal performance. And I don't like Vampire's View either, because it like Troy said, they really don't do "dark and brooding" with any degree of realism or menace, ala King Crimson. It'd be like Yes trying to do discernable lyrics
That being said, I do like 'What If God Is Alone', 'Jealousy', and 'Mommy Leave The Light On', being dark subject matter done in a non theatrical, yet effecting way. But then again, they're well written songs too.
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