Review Summary: They've still got it
After a series of largely mediocre albums, decades old psychedelic rock band Hawkwind released another grand ode to space, drugs, and hard rock. The album takes on a largely more electronic sound than the classic ‘70s material, and through the wonders of modern production, the hard rock sound is easily more pronounced. The album is still wholly Hawkwind however, with distorted vocals, hazy, hard rocking riffs, and that smooth, mysterious feel that radiates from Hawkwind’s music, that entrances the listener and creates a strong desire to listen to the great music.
The album represents everything someone would come to expect from a classic Hawkwind album, the heavier tracks like the opener “Seasons,” and the excellent follower “The Hills Have Ears,” and those easily identifiable Hawkwind segues in the vein of “The Wizard Blew His Horn.” The acoustic “Mind Cut” at first sounds like something that could’ve been released by The Flaming Lips, and calls to mind “Five Stop Mother Superior Rain,” both of them being thoroughly enjoyable songs. “The Southern Cross” is easily one of the best tracks here, with synthesizers bounding about, serene flute in the background, and uniform entrancing drums throughout. This track and its succeeding counterpart “The Prophecy” are two perfect examples of the mind-attracting atmosphere that this album and Hawkwind in general are known for, however they are not even close to the only examples. The electronically fueled “The Drive By”, with its soaring guitar leads is yet another piece of evidence attesting to the quality of this album. Atmosphere is the biggest factor in this albums success, as well as the musical competence shown by Brock and the other members, with bouncing bass lines, great guitar solos, and mesmerizing drums, electronics, and vocals, not to mention the hard rock riffs that are often present.
As many people are regarding albums released by bands past their prime, I was initially skeptical coming into this album partially because it sounded a bit cheesy at parts, but this is a '70s band and what were the '70s if not a bit cheesy". Late-career releases range from awful through mediocre and sometimes manage to still impress, as this album does. At first it sounds like a band releasing outdated music in a new period in time (an aspect of music which yields many inconsistent results), but then immersion in the amazing atmosphere provided by this album proves that it doesn’t matter if this is outdated, because this is Hawkwind, and most importantly this is Hawkwind showing the world that they still have what it takes to make great music.