The Flower Kings - 'Waiting For Miracles'

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The Flower Kings - 'Waiting For Miracles'

Fabulous melodies, recurring themes, incisive lyrics and wonderful musicianship.

It's been six years since the last fully-fledged output from The Flower Kings and it appeared for a while that Roine Stolt had put them on permanent hiatus; however, it seems last year's label anniversary tour alongside Spock's Beard provided the necessary catalyst, impetus and evident chemistry to get them back into action. I saw them on that tour and it was clear the band were on cloud nine so it's not surprising that the resulting double album lives up to expectations. As one has come to expect, the fabulous melodies, recurring themes, incisive lyrics and wonderful musicianship are all in evidence, although unusually all but two of the songs clock in under the ten-minute mark.

The first long number is 'Miracles For America' and it contains some rather cutting lyrics which, if I interpret them correctly, shame the current administration; musically, it's a diverse piece that mixes tempos and styles. There's a delightful guitar solo that puts me in mind of Andy Latimer (Camel) and an underlying theme that is soon swimming around your head. 'Vertigo' has a wonderful refrain, and it features some delicious bass from Jonas Reingold, marvellous vintage keyboard sounds from Zach Kamins and Stolt stretching out on the guitar solo.

Kamins brings more piano to the group's sound than hitherto and this is evident on the initially delicate 'The Bridge' which then concludes with Stolt letting rip during a gritty solo. 'Ascending To The Stars' is an instrumental that has cinematic qualities and great orchestration, while the wonderful 'Wicked Old Symphony' brings something different to The Flower Kings' palette; it reminds me of Steve Hackett's jauntier songs and is a real toe-tapper. 'The Rebel Circus' is an edgy instrumental which cleverly reprises earlier themes before 'Sleeping With The Enemy' finds Stolt singing the verses and Hasse Fröberg the choruses to great effect in classic The Flower Kings fashion. Disc one concludes with 'The Crowning Of Greed' which begins with some furious soloing but ends reprising the theme from 'The Bridge'.

The second disc harks back to the first via 'House Of Cards Reprise'; the original piece opens the album as a subtle piano theme but the reprise rocks it up. 'Spirals' also recalls an earlier theme which The Flower Kings are so good at – it's earworm central. 'Steampunk' is another track full of hooks, while 'We Were Always Here' has a fine chorus as the song moves from Pop to Prog and back again.

Gary Marshall

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