Review Summary: A lovingly crafted and deeply atmospheric concept album full of psychedelic spacefaring sonics which unabashedly seeks to recall the spirit of Pink Floyd in their 70's heyday.A man sits alone in his car looking out to sea and reflects upon his life. He ponders the more joyful moments from his past when he used to come to this "Viewing Point" with his family at weekends. But now they are gone; he is all alone and sits here steeped in melancholic thoughts as the waves crash upon the shore. He looks forward to an uncertain future and is full of doubt as to where his life will take him.
This is the loose concept of The Viewing Point
, the third album from the UK based psychedelic rock band The Future Kings Of England. These chaps are unashamedly rooted in the past with their brand of Pink Floyd inspired progressive rock, serving up a retro diet of mellotron and organ infused psychedelia replete with haunting spacebound melodies and interstellar sonics.
The album opens to the sound of our hero arriving in his car at the viewing point with the simply titled "Go..". This song immediately sets the scene for what is to come with plaintive acoustic guitar chords ringing out above a backdrop of mournful organ sounds before a wailing melody peeps it's head out from above the clouds and some tasteful Gilmouresque lead guitar takes over to ease the song into its dark crescendo of a conclusion. "Sea Saw" racks things up a notch with some retro prog riffing which eventually falls away to reveal some beautiful piano and mellotron passages laced with hints of the acoustic guitar theme from the opener. A memorable second half dominated by lead guitar gives a nod to Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds
. The highlight of the album has to be the 13 minute "Time Flies Like an Arrow," which starts with a slow mellotron-infused psychedelic gait and once again includes some wonderful David Gilmour influenced lead guitar lines. An undulating bass line takes over to propel the music forward into a slowly building spacebound texture of mellotron swirls and organ which culminates with some aggressive riffing and a beautiful soaring melody to bring this mini-epic to a close. The title track itself exhibits an eerie and foreboding quality and undergoes major shifts in dynamics from dramatic highs to soul-searching lows as the man in the car analyses his troubled life. The song eventually falls away to the quiet sound of rain spattering upon the windscreen of the car and abruptly cuts off with a sharp rapping at the window, leaving us to wonder if the man has decided that this journey to the viewing point has been the last he will ever make.
Mournful, foreboding, eerie, melancholic: these are just some of the adjectives I have used in attempting to describe the music on this lovingly crafted album and they fit the whole atmosphere perfectly. This is not the sort of music that grabs you by the scruff of the neck; rather, it is the type of music that caresses you slowly over repeated listens allowing the subtleties and rich atmospherics to finally crawl under your skin. Pink Floyd fans, in particular, will find a lot to love in the way that The Future Kings of England manage to embrace the retro sounds of early 70's psychedelia in a tasteful fashion without descending into parody. This comes highly recommended for anyone with a hankering for some immaculately crafted traditional space/psych delivered with flair and honesty.