The Flower Kings, Look At You Now Review
Complexity Meets Purpose: The Flower Kings’ Look At You Now
Progressive rock stalwarts, The Flower Kings, return with an album that’s not just a nod to their legacy, but also an invitation to new listeners. Under the expert craftsmanship of Roine Stolt, they remain steadfast custodians of an era long past. Their 16th studio offering, Look At You Now, melds nearly three decades of symphonic artistry with the nostalgic resonance of ’70s rock.
The Flower Kings, birthed as a passion project in 1994, became one of the few flag-bearers of prog-rock when the genre seemed on the cusp of fading into history. Stolt, with the memories of esteemed collaborations with icons like Jon Anderson of Yes, has consistently found solace and creative prowess with this band, especially alongside mainstays Jonas Reingold and Hasse Fröberg.
“Beginner’s Eyes,” one of the album’s standout tracks, is a seamless blend of past and present. It harnesses the ethos of classic prog-rock, accentuated by modern musical flourishes. The lyrical introspection, a commentary on our age’s information saturation, beckons listeners to savor moments rather than chasing the ephemeral. Roine and Hasse’s united vocal melodies, the delightful “blipping and blopping” of the Hammond and Moog synthesizers, and the steadfast rhythm section provided by Mirko and Michael ensure the song is both an intellectual and emotional treat.
Venturing into the instrumental odyssey of “Dr. Ribedeaux,” one is met with evocative imagery of a relentless savior combating a world-devouring virus. This composition communicates profound narratives without the crutch of lyrics. Its intricate melodies and virtuosic passages are the hallmarks of the band’s excellent instrumental mastery. Each note resonates purposefully, while the guitar’s warm tonality soothes like a sonic salve. Stolt’s mesmerizing solo stands out, making it an essential listen for both guitar aficionados and admirers.
“Stronghold” further amplifies the vintage charm, embodying a moody prog-rock vibe while subtly sprinkling elements of Swedish folk. The lyrics, tinged with poignancy, offer a glimmer of hope amidst tumultuous times. Stolt’s use of the Wah-Wah pedal, alongside the intricate rhythmic shifts within the song form, adds a rich depth to the sonic experience.
Yet, the question beckons: How does this offering differentiate itself from their past 15 albums? The answer lies in a delicate balancing act. The familiar symphonic art rock sound is complemented by glimpses of folk, shorter track lengths, and a dedication to addressing contemporary issues like the environmental crises.
Like all living entities, bands evolve, and The Flower Kings are no exception. This album sees the return of Michael Stolt and the departure of longtime bassist Jonas Reingold, marking another chapter in their musical journey. Nevertheless, the essence remains. The band’s commitment to their art form is unyielding, evident in their complex instrumental layers and lyrical depth.
Drawing parallels with stalwarts like Genesis and Yes, Look At You Now is a melodic call to action to the pressing challenges of our time. It is deeply rooted in tradition, yet seeks relevance in our current age. It also serves as an urging clarion call, beckoning listeners towards introspection and action. Moreover, it stands as a compelling gateway to the world of prog rock, certain to captivate and usher in a new generation of aficionados.
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Look At You Now
September 8, 2023