Exploiting the somewhat cliched headline of small country not normally known for its musical output produces good band shocker for a moment, Lithuania’s The Skys are, you guessed it, good.
Seated firmly in full-on progressive rock territory from the out, fourth album Colours of the Desert manages to achieve that often sought-after prog rock ambition by balancing complexity and intricacy with solid songwriting and memorable hooks.
As the cover art suggests, this is psychedelic desert prog rock that regularly brings to mind Pink Floyd and, equally, Hawkwind. The title track jumps straight into this comparison by morphing from one influence to the other, progressing into a swathe of cosmic keyboard effects, female harmonic vocals and that wonderfully warm, searching sound that makes progressive rock such a joy to experience. Is This The Way continues with a poppy mixture of vocal harmonies and impressive melody, complimented by some strong guitar soloing that draws further Pink Floyd comparisons.
Clearly not content with sticking too close to their influences, The Skys’ sound opens up hugely on the longer songs. The meandering melodies of Walking Alone enters the otherworldly plain of Mike Oldfield at times; the omnipresent guitar solos lapping against the background synths, with a fade-out being the only thing preventing the song from developing its own consciousness and carrying on into the infinite prog dream world.
The less interesting moments weigh the album down slightly; When the Western Wind Blows is a dad-rock ballad that sounds like an experiment involving Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and a collaboration between Mark Knopfler and Chris Rea at their most lethargic. Yet it ultimately maintains its dignity; quite a feat for a song containing a minute-long saxophone solo.
The less-than-subtle imagery that accompanies each song within the lyric book manages to raise a grin rather than impress with any kind of complex metaphorical significance, yet the overall desert theme accentuates the feel of the album; searching, nomadic, and deeply introspective. Calling Out Your Name brings forth a much brighter melody, lightening the mood and even adding a twist of David Lee Roth to the mix.
Colours of the Desert manages to achieve exactly what draws me to progressive rock, by being as listenable as it is complex; displaying all the characteristics of what is generally classed as prog rock without disappearing too far into its own boundless state of eccentric existence. With the help of some big-name guest musicians including David Kilminster (Roger Waters), John Young (ex-Scorpions) and Snake Davis (Eurythmics), the band are catapulted to the apex of their fifteen-year career. At times The Skys are so laid back they could cure all forms of insomnia, but if uncluttered, chilled-out prog rock is your cup of tea, this is an essential listen.
- 01 – Colours Of The Desert
- 02 – Is This The Way?
- 03 – I…He…
- 04 – Walking Alone
- 05 – When The Western Wind Blows
- 06 – Calling Out Your Name
- 07 – The Pyramid
- 08 – Lethal Kiss
- 09 – What If?