Despite having released several “side” albums Pages Of Aquarius is their first “official” album since The Ghetsemane Option (2013). Official meaning released by their current record company Metropolis Records and being supported by a tour. In terms of artwork it is certainly one of the most beautiful albums they have released in the past years. The cover is an abstract face in different colours. The album is released both as CD and (limited edition) double LP. The CD is a jewel case CD with a booklet containing all the lyrics. The vinyl edition has a bonus side, and is a gatefold double album, also with the lyrics on the inner side. Of course it is the music that matters, but the artwork is a nice finishing touch, in a time when many CD albums are released in cheap cardboard covers.
The opening track Mirror Mirror is a catchy, guitar driven tune with self reflecting lyrics, a typical opener to catch the attention. The attention is held by The Greatest Story Ever Told and especially D-Train, the first highlight. A raging train of electronics and guitar that slowly derails. With Credibility the albums continues in a complete different direction. A slow rigid piano tune, that reminds of very early tracks like The Wedding and The Lifesucker, from the days they still used the piano with the dots of pink nail varnish that gave the band her name. It's not a bad song, but it does not really fit well with the rest of the album.
But it is with songs like Trending, Prodigal, Don't go there and Page Aquarius where the album sets off in a new direction. Sure, the typical elements are still there: the combination of electronics and guitar, the psychedelic and melancholic sound, the typical voice of Edward Ka-Spel and the black humour. But it is almost as if they added a new element; silence. These tracks sound quite minimalistic, stripped of all frills and electronic bleeps, until only the essential part remains.
Being a long term fan I have to admit that at first listening the album was a slight disappointment. Also after second listening. But slowly it grew on me and now I consider it one of the best releases in the past years. Less cohesive then the predecessor, but with a specific sound of its own.
****+ Erik Gibbels (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2016