If it’s true that a week is a long time in politics, a decade in the music industry must surely be the equivalent of a myriad lifetimes. Consider the amount of change; whether in terms of styles, tribes, technological advances, listening modes, business models, there is little doubt that life in the music industry has moved on significantly even in the last few years. Throw in life changes, marriages, kids, divorces and you can begin to see why it has taken Californian Prog band Enchant just over a decade to get a new record together.
The Great Divide (InsideOut) is a return to the musical fray for a band who, having been prolific during the 1990s, faded at the turn of the century and now find themselves betwixt and between being “underground prog legends” and “mates of Steve Rothery”. Having lived with their eighth studio release for a few weeks I suspect that this record will delight and infuriate in equal measure. Those of you familiar with their particular brand of progressive rock (for this is rock, albeit a keyboard drenched version of it) will be pretty happy, all things being told; for new listeners, I suspect that it’s going to sound, well, a bit dated, really.
This is a clean sounding and deeply polite record and in actual fact, it’s not that proggy. More, it’s not dissimilar to some of the late 80s melodic rock that the likes of Mr Mister used to put out. There are some nice harmonies, particularly on the title track and ‘All Mixed Up’ but the lyrics are, in the nicest possible way, straight out of “101 Good Uses for a Cliché” and anyone who pens “Round and round and round it goes, and where it stops, no one knows” needs, metaphorically, a good kicking. Oh, gentlemen, this is lyric writing for second-graders.
Part of me feels somewhat guilty for not liking this record more than I do – it’s got all the leitmotifs that I generally warm to; riffs, keyboard solos, big harmonies, (you know the drill) – but I can’t get excited by any of this at all. Part of the problem is I can see the joins. The Great Divide is really well put together and nicely produced; it feels immediately warm and comfortable. It’s not unassuming or apologetic. There are plenty of proggy flourishes but it is the sum of its parts and nothing more and you can more or less see the joins and the musical narrative is fairly well telegraphed. This doesn’t mean that The Great Divide is indulgent, but it fails to rise above the merely adequate or the pleasant enough to be truly memorable and, after nearly a decade out of the limelight that can only count as a disappointing return.
File under close, but, definitely, no cigar.