Feelings Are Good (2020, see review) the 4th album of Lonely Robot was slightly disappointing to me as the three previous LR albums were real symphonic prog gems; so, I was really curious if John Mitchell and his the new LR album called A Model Life would be a “return” to the first three high quality LR albums?
So, to cut to the chase, A Model Life, Lonely Robot's 5th release is indeed again a beautiful, melodic prog rock album of the highest standard and that is, in my humble opinion, mainly due to the fact that Mitchell's guitar work is very “dominant” on this new release. And although the synthesisers and keyboards are plentiful throughout the album it is fair to say that the return of Mitchell's guitar soloing is really a big draw on this album! The impressive opening track Recalibrating really sets the tone for this album, being a flawless, emotional (check out the very personal lyrics), melodic song, with beautiful piano melodies and a David Gilmour kind of soaring guitar solo to finish this one brilliantly. Digital God Machine is a rather dark and mysterious track, while the “dreamy” Species In Transition features Mitchell's most expressive and emotional guitar solo of the entire album! The second part of this album starts with the title track and this part is even better than the first part. The five following songs are immaculately impressive and emotional. The title track is lyrically very emotional and personal and musically medium-paced with beautiful instrumentation and echoes of spoken words to make this one even more “melancholy.” Mandalay is the shortest track of the album and this one is a short “story” about the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rebecca, featuring a simple piano melody, keyboards, and Mitchell's vocals. Follow up Rain Kings is one of my favourite tracks here; a symphonic prog rock highlight with great melodies and a very addictive and powerful chorus: “We are rain kings; we are rain kings. When in the sadness, we must cry. For every tear will always dry.” Duty Of Care is again a very personal song, extremely melodic and filled with howling guitar sounds; beautiful indeed! But then, unfortunately we come to the end of this amazing album, but what an ending it is! In Memoriam is a wonderful piece of emotional, melancholic, and modest prog rock/pop music and check out the immaculate guitar solo here; shivers down my spine indeed and reminding me of one of the best English guitar players ever, being Andrew Latimer of Camel of course!
A Model Life is the best Lonely Robot so far and that is not a cliché but just the simple truth as this is progressive rock/pop music at its best, truly iconic, and very melodic. A buy or die album without any shadow of a doubt, already a highlight of the year 2022!!
***** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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