With three studio albums, a live album and an EP under their belt, the Swedish band Moon Safari can look back on a wonderful back catalogue. Each and every release is at the highest possible level, and the same can be said about their latest album Himlabacken Vol.1.
The only negative remark I can come up with is the short length of time. With only 46 minutes on the clock, you might say it maybe is a little bit too short, but hey, what am I complaining about, because every single second on Himlabacken Vol.1 was well spent by Simon Åkesson (keyboards, lead and backing vocals), Petter Sandström (acoustic guitar, harmonica, lead and backing vocals,) Pontus Åkesson (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Johan Westerlund (vocals and bass), Tobias Lundgren (vocals, drums and percussion) and Sebastian Åkesson (vocals, organ and percussion). Those who are already familiar with this amazing band, know what to expect music wisbe; progressive rock in the vein of bands such as The Flower Kings, Yes and Genesis, bands that also tried to entertain their audience with spectacular instrumental parts, performed on keyboards and electric guitars. But not only does Moon Safari shine on their instruments, they know how to keep you focused all the time vocal wise. Thanks to their strong harmony vocals can you easily compare them to a barbershop quartet or to the likes of The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Flower Kings, The Beatles and Yes. All those facets can once again be enjoyed in full glory on Himlabacken Vol.1. On the other hand, during the several times I listened to the album, two new names did come to mind: Queen and Gentle Giant. However, sounding like them doesn't mean they were influenced by them. Sounding like them was not a problem for me as long as it gives them more variety on a musical level.
Many people have already asked themselves what the title of the album could mean. Well, Himlabacken Vol. 1 is a concept album about their childhood and the place they grew up, being the town Skellefteå. In English the title means something like Heavenly Hill; the place they went to play as kids. Throughout the entire album they reminisce about the fun they had when they were younger. Even more so now most of them got married and now have kids of their own. Therefore titles such as Kids- a fantastic close harmony piece - and My Little Man - a kind of solo piece by Pontus, performed on his acoustic guitar, about his newly born son - are very important to them.
Mentioning any favourites is simply very difficult, when you know the level on the entire album is very high. I guess I'd have to go for Barfly, because of its intense and heavy initial riff at the start of the track, very much like Spock's Beard does in their songs.
Although the latest Moon Safari hasn't added anything new in comparison to their earlier releases, it doesn't mean it is less enjoyable. They still know how to make my heart beat faster every time they welcome me with a new release! This is because they are one of the few bands that never let me down and always come up with the best possible music that's available. Therefore I can only say I highly recommend them and the highest score possible is rightly in place !
***** Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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