If asked, you would say this was a punk rock album by looking at the album sleeve, probably because of the steampunk-like British flag and the graffiti text on it. I never heard of this artist before, and I actually should be ashamed of it, because I found out this is music that I really enjoy listening to. This isn't punk, but pure and wonderful prog rock/ pop, and very accessible too. Some tracks could even be filed under soft prog, or something like that. It doesn't contain long prog epics, but songs between three and seven minutes long.
Island Of The Imbeciles is Steve Thorne's fifth studio album. Steve plays most of the instruments himself and provides most of the vocals, but he also surrounded himself with amazing guest musicians on this album. Those guest musicians are none other than Nick D'Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock's Beard), Tony Levin (King Crimson, Stick Men), Robin Armstrong and James McLaren. The album sounds very good, which makes it extra enjoyable to listen to.
Album opener In The Frame is a very good start. The intro is very strange and haunting the first thirty seconds, but becomes very accessible and interesting. The solo guitar that pops up from time to time reminds me of the guitar playing style of Marillion's Steve Rothery. Animal is my favourite on the album. It is some sort of 90s ballad, thanks to the slightly exaggerated drums and appreciable bass. It's a great song with a dark but beautiful undertone. Colours Of Torment starts with a cool Mellotron and bass riff. This track reminds me a bit of Big Big Train's music. Don't Fear Tomorrow is a good pop rock track, but the chorus is a bit on the dull side in my opinion, although I catch myself humming along. Title track Island Of the Imbeciles is a slightly bombastic song. Too bad it's only less than four minutes long. Dear Mother Earth is a more uplifting and up tempo song, and reminds me again of Big Big Train. The bass is quite catchy too. Let Me Down is a ballad-like poppy track that would do great as a single. Tony Levin does a great job on providing the bass on this song. Ancestors is an uplifting song again, and makes me tap my feet. Ashes is another favourite of mine on this album. A solid prog rock track with fantastic instrumental moments and a beautiful chorus. Last song They Are Flesh is a softer one, carrying a bit of a Genesis vibe along.
This is an album that a lot of prog rockers would appreciate, and I would really recommend this album to a lot of (prog) music lovers, but sometimes I miss some rousing moments in the music. Steve could have been more daring in his music to give it more icing on the cake. Consider the music like your favourite apple pie your Mom bakes. You know what to expect, and you know it's good, but sometimes you wonder what it would taste like if you changed some of the ingredients. Nevertheless, Steve Thorne provided a splendid album that surely deserves a bigger audience!
****+ Iris Hidding (edited by Robert James Pashman)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2016