Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Album Review: Fleesh - What I Found

It's funny how sometimes you can go years without hearing something, and then in short order you hear it popping up everywhere. Usually, it's one song that has escaped your mind only to come back with a vengeance, but it can happen to larger themes as well. Last year, I reviewed the most recent release from Lucid Fly, who have the unusual (I'm not sure why) sound of modern rock with some prog tendencies, capped off with a female singer. It was something I haven't heard in quite a long time, but here we are just a bit later, and Fleesh is doing something similar in nature, though not necessarily in sound.

Fleesh is a duo from Brazil who have embraced the sound of early neo-prog, but without the excesses that can come along with songs that stretch across an entire side of vinyl. They use the instrumental structure of early Genesis and Yes, but do it in a way concise enough for this modern world.

You don't have to get far into the opening title track before it becomes apparent that Fleesh is a abnd with a warm, inviting sound. There's a richness to the layers of guitars and keyboards that invites you in. Gabby Vessoni's vocals are similarly warm, and it all adds up to a sound that pulls the best aspects from nostalgia. You can hear that spacey, early 80s guitar tone on the solo, but the heart of the song is the melody, which leaves behind the obtuse writing of that time period for something more immediately engaging.

A song like "If I" is both wonderfully laconic and liltingly beautiful. If there's such a thing as restrained pop, this would be a solid example of the style. It's a gentle approach to reeling you in, as opposed to hitting you over the head with musical adventures. That is the album's best attribute, and also the one thing that holds it back.

There is evident influence from the early neo-prog bands, and I admire Fleesh's self-control to not fill their songs with too much instrumental noodling and needlessly expansive song structures. However, the other side of the coin is that their restrained approach to music leaves the album lacking a bit of energy. It's beautiful music, but it strikes me as the kind of album you put on while you're doing something else. It sets a mood, and it serves as a lovely backdrop, but I think it needs a bit more pep to be your full focus for the fifty minutes it lasts.

That being said, let's be clear for a moment; Fleesh has made a beautiful album that recalls the best of neo-prog, and offers up nearly an hour of songs that make a lovely backdrop for life. Not everything has to stand out and demand to be the center of attention. "What I Found" doesn't, and really it might be better off for it. For what the aim of this album is, it absolutely succeeds.

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