Moon Safari - Himlabacken Vol. 2

Kev Rowland

I have no idea what has been happening in the Moon Safari camp, but it has been ten years between albums, which is quite some wait given I gave ‘Himlabacken Vol. 1’ maximum marks. I note there has been a slight change in the line-up in that while Petter Sandström (lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar), Simon Åkesson (lead and backing vocals, piano, organ, Moog), Pontus Åkesson (lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitar), Sebastian Åkesson (backing vocals, assorted keys, percussion) and Johan Westerlund (lead and backing vocals, bass guitar) are still there, drummer Tobias Lundgren, who has been on all the other albums, is no longer involved and instead there is Mikael Israelsson (backing vocals, drums, percussion, keyboards, piano). Mind you, Mikael joined the band in 2015 so there is a still a long time between drinks, for whatever reason.

The band has two lead singers in Simon Åkesson and Petter Sandström, but one of the really important aspects of Moon Safari is the important use of vocal harmonies throughout. When I first heard them, I described them as The Carpenters in a prog setting, and while they have moved somewhat from there, those harmonies are still incredibly important in a sound which has much in common with the pomp and circumstance of classic Styx, Starz and other American bands from the late Seventies. That they are Swedish and performing in the 21st century does not matter as the material and musical performances are very strong indeed, and somehow, they manage to cut through the sugar levels so it does not leave a bad taste in the mouth. The album is not as over polished and over produced as one might expect given the musical style, and this manages to keep it rooted, and once again credit must be given to Rich Mouser who mixed and mastered this at the Mouse House Studio, bringing all his experience with the likes of Spock’s Beard to keep this fresh and interesting as they mix pop, pomp and prog to create something which is very enjoyable on first play and only gets better. We can only hope it is not 10 years until the next one as Moon Safari continue to operate in their own style of prog, and long may it continue.

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