Flower KIngs, The - Banks Of Eden,
And so The Flower Kings are back with their first album in four years, although most of the guys have been busy in other projects in the intervening time. I have to confess to a love/hate relationship with the band, as while they have consistently produced great music over the years, there have also been times when they need to take a hatchet to their work and undertake some serious editing. I have only managed to see them in concert once, but have to admit to being suitably impressed and my then eight year old daughter sat on the stage at Roine’s feet entranced by what was going on. There has always been a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I ought to love everything TFK do without reservation, as they are mining a type of symphonic prog that I have always enjoyed, but against that I also had the view that Roine’s solo album that gave the group the name was actually superior to anything the group had managed to achieve.
So when this arrived to review I was more than a little cautious – a quick glance at the track listings showed me that although most of the songs were of the roughly six minute mark, opener “Numbers” was more than four times that length. So even before putting it on I already knew what it was going to sound like – wrong. To my ears this is easily the finest thing that TFK have ever achieved – there is a sense of direction that I haven’t heard before. Even “Numbers” feels like a fully constructed piece without the meaningless noodlings that I had come to expect. This is an album where everything is right. It is hard to put it into words, but if like me you felt that they really hadn’t managed to come up with the goods then that is definitely no longer the case. From start to finish this is a proghead’s delight and I only hope that we don’t have to wait so long for the next one.