1993's blistering return to form finds IQ rediscovering the mojo they displaced after 1985's dark, stark, startlingly brilliant `The Wake', a fact not entirely unconnected to vocalist Peter Nicholls' return to the band. But there is more to it than this. It sounds like the whole band has taken stock after a couple of below-par albums, stopped trying to be something they are not, and asserted the collective personality, sound and approach that has served them well right up to this day.
The medium length songs - Darkest Hour, Further Away - are the perfect synthesis of the shorter tracks on The Wake and the longer ones on Tales From the Lush Attic, giving the band the space to really explore an idea, and tell a story. Which is not to say the shorter tracks are any less interesting (Fading Senses is particularly moving).
The drama and intensity of The Wake are still present, but there is also a maturity, which, coupled with the intricacy of the arrangements, leads to an emotive power and soaring beauty which is (to me, at least) unmatched by anyone else in the prog canon of the last fifteen years (a few moments in Hogarth-era Marillion notwithstanding). Ever is still for me, by a whisker, the best of the post '93 albums, possibly because of its historical significance and the step-change it embodies. Nevertheless The Seventh House and Dark Matter give it a damn good run for its money.