German prog band Poor Genetic Material are back with their twelfth album, their first in four years, but there again the band have slowed down somewhat in recent times and no longer produce an album a year like they did for their first eight releases. It is the same recording unit which has been in place for years, while singer Phil Griffiths has again invited his father Martin (from the legendary Beggars Opera) to guest on a number as well. This is all mellow stuff, with multiple layers being set down for Phil to lay his vocals. He is a great singer, and also sets himself up with plenty of backing vocals which take the music into an almost 10CC direction. Due to the layering, it means that when an instrument manages to cut through it has an immediate and impressive impact, whether that is a finger popping bass note or a delicate flute. There are Mellotrons at play, distant lead guitars, and a pop/prog mentality which both makes this album feel rather lightweight and highly enjoyable at the same time.
This is not music where the listener needs to settle in for multiple plays, but rather is one where they can find themselves smiling on the very first time of playing the opening title track, with the smile getting that little wider the more they listen. I do wish there were more in the way of dynamics and depth in the material, and there are times when some of the early Eighties’ influences are a little too overt, and Pallas in their early days are an obvious reference. I would have liked to have had a little more crunch and a little less polish, as I am sure these songs would not come across quite like this in a live environment. All that to one side, this is an incredibly enjoyable album, smack bang in the middle of the Crossover sub-genre, with the odd neo prog influences here and there. Maybe not one for the traditionalists, but a nice listen all the same.