Review Summary: A gateway drug for progressive music, yet just as powerful as heroine.
Prog is a genre driven by progression, hence the origin of its name. It is a label driven to push the boundaries of the music we listen to and redefine our standards of good music. The more ambitious music listeners become desensitized to the music around them, after many years of constant exposure, and thus are on an endless search for something that separates itself from the rest. In the underground music community, experimentation has practically become synonymous with high quality music. However, sometimes we just need a reminder that the core of writing music is something fairly simple: good songwriting. Therefore, I introduce to you “Brighter Skies” by FreddeGredde; a progressive rock album that doesn’t introduce anything new for the genre, but is a refreshing blend of all its pre-established traits.
“Brighter Skies” contains all aspects we have all come to know the prog genre for such as unconventional jams, tempo changes, odd time signatures, shifts in dynamics, instrumental layering, and un-linear song structures. While many would argue that this is a major flaw, I refute that it is actually the album’s biggest strength. Fredrik Larsson - under the name FreddeGredde - has clearly listened to a fair share of progressive music and has learned to use it as a weapon. You can hear a clear passion for the genre as a whole, almost as if the music is made to be a homage. The music has a very accessible nature to it; this is an album that could easily find itself bringing in many new prog fans but still impressing the veterans listeners, establishing a perfect middle ground between catchy hooks and varying complexity. The guitar is lighthearted in tone yet flaunting in technique, the keyboard is a driving force yet conveys subtlety, and the vocals are easy on the ears yet rhythmically shifting.
Although the general elements and concepts behind the album are fairly standard for the genre, one way that “Brighter Skies” greatly differs from its brethren is its tone. Progressive music has never had a large disposal of emotional conveyance in its arsenal, most of the time resorting to a sinister or epic atmosphere. Of course every once in a while an emotional or somber tune roles around, but there is one form of expression that is always oddly neglected. However, FreddeGredde unearthed this fossil and has revealed his discovery to the world: a little thing called happiness. This album is all sunshine and rainbows; prog has never been the type of music to put a smile on my face, but this is one time that it has. From the moment the first song “Welcome to Brighter Skies” starts, you quickly get a taste of what’s in store, from the upbeat tempo to the bright chimes, merry piano, comforting acoustic work, gleeful singing, and just complete lack of abuse of sharp notes. The mood is very consistent without ever becoming stale; there are songs such as the jolly and festive folk-inspired “Your Life” and the mellow and ethereal piano driven “The Tower” adding variety but still maintaining equilibrium. If you are unsure that you will like this, give the first two tracks a try, as they encompass the key components of “Brighter Skies” as a whole.