4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Very good effort from this prog supergroup,
This review is from: Picture [Limited Edition Digipak] (Audio CD)
I was initially in two minds about this album. On the one hand this collaboration of John Mitchell (Arena), Pete Trewavas (Marillion), John Becks (It Bites) and Chris Maitland (ex Porcupine Tree) looked good on paper. But initial reports were of this being very neo-prog, moving into areas of near AOR and even pop! So I was a bit cautious when I first put this on. But I was very pleasantly surprised to say the least. This is extremely melodic and very pleasant to listen to. I don't mean that in a derogatory sense, but there is a very positive vibe to the songs. The majority of the lead vocals are by John Mitchell and he has a surprisingly assured vocal presence. The musicianship is excellent as to be expected, though Chris Maitland's drums are not as intricate and ingenious compared to his past work with Porcupine Tree. But I assume that is due to the material here requiring a simpler and more straightforward approach.
There is quite a contemporary, almost poppy feel to the songs. There is nothing retro-progressive here. If anything, comparisons to 80's bands such as The Police would not go far wrong. Though everything is given a slight progressive edge which keeps things interesting and distinctive. Melodically this is a very strong album, with each song having strong hooks which remain in the mind well after each listen. The opener, "Losers Day Parade" is at 9 minutes the lengthiest and most prog orientated track, with excellent bass work by Pete Trewavas and an almost Beatles feel in some parts. "Letting Go" has an almost folksy quality to it. John Beck takes the lead vocal for the excellent "Swimming in Women" which is tense and quirky. But the quality of the songwriting and performances are fresh and sustained throughout.
I think the members of Kino have used this platform to try something away from the prog rock mainstream, flexing their songwriting skills in a more rarefied manner to come up with something melodically very strong. In that, they have succeeded very well, with elements of their individual prog roots coming through now and then. This album is not what I expected and I am more than pleased with the results. This seems to be a long term project rather than just a one off, so hopefully we can expect more in the future. With Arena's latest album and this under his belt, this has been a pretty good year so far for John Mitchell and it's only March!