The Flower Kings -
Look At You Now

(CD 2023, 68:33, Inside Out Music)

The tracks:
  1- Beginner's Eyes(4:35)
  2- The Dream(4:37)
  3- Hollow Man(5:00)
  4- Dr. Ribedeaux(3:02)
  5- Mother Earth(4:15)
  6- The Queen(5:25)
  7- The Light In Your Eyes(5:45)
  8- Seasons End(5:26)
  9- Scars(5:27)
10- Stronghold(6:45)
11- Father Sky(3:06)
12- Day For Peace(3:10)
13- Look At You Now(12:00)

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Look At You Now is already the 16th studio album of Swedish prog rockers The Flower Kings and is again a must have album for all fans of a band that has been making more than excellent music over the last thirty years. Seeing the fact that I “rewarded” their previous albums like By Royal Decree (2022, see review), Islands (2020, see review) and Banks Of Eden (2012, see review) with at least four stars this new album sets a standard indeed. Roine Stolt and band are ever so true to their sound, filled with vintage musical vibes, infused psychedelia and technically challenging that it almost sounds and could be labelled as classic rock. Their unique sound, due to Stolt's guitar work and multiple types of keyboards, never bores me tho' many critics feel that this album is more of the same, meaning same old, same old... I could not disagree more as The Flower Kings do not need to invent themselves as their highly recognizable sound is not a negative thing.

Look At You Now kicks off with the first single of this album being Beginner's Eyes and right from the start the tone is set, this is so unmistakeably Flower Kings; follow up The Dream is even better with a slight melancholy feeling and beautiful guitar strumming by Stolt. The two instrumental tracks of this album Dr. Ribedeaux and The Queen are really special, as the first one sounds rather jazz-rocky and the second one The Queen even has some medieval characteristics! Stronghold, the second longest song, is a 100% Flower Kings track, packed with musical twists and turns, lots of melody and of course an excellent guitar solo. Lyrically, I hear “positive” sounds, dealing with current issues about, among others, humanity failing nature in songs like Mother Earth, Seasons End and Father Sky. Sad but true there is also an absolute fiasco track featured here, namely the utterly tedious and boring anthemic Day For Peace, with vocals of Marjana Semkina! Is this an attempt to return to the flower power period, the sixties, or what is it? No Flower Kings song, which is for sure, thank God it “only” lasts for three minutes, what a drag indeed! Furthermore, Look At You Now is a great album, although I deeply miss an FK epic in the veins of songs like Numbers, Stardust We Are or Garden Of Dreams! However, Stolt saves the best for last as the title song, a mini epic clocking in at 12 minutes is the highlight of the album, again a 100% pure Flower Kings track, ending this album in style indeed.

On 26 October, the FK will be playing in Palenberg and on the 27th in Uden (as part of the European Tour 2023), so be there if you are a fan of more than excellent progressive rock.

**** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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