3.5 out of 5 stars
Listening to the Swedish band The Amazing is akin to taking a trip back into the mid-80s. That was an era when groups such as the Church, the Mighty Lemon Drops, the Cocteau Twins and others popularized a style that floated on a bed of intertwining guitars, breathy vocals and wistful soundscapes. Earlier touchstones are 60s era Pink Floyd and the early Moody Blues whose trippy sounds fell between space rock, psychedelic pop, trance and shoe gaze.
The Amazing has been perfecting this approach through two previous full length releases with the often languorous but never boring Picture You the result. Frontman Christoffer Gunrup’s gauzy vocals effortlessly reflect the music, even if his voice and words are secondary to the overall sonic experience. They become just another ingredient in the overall vibe, but with titles such as “Circles,” The Headless Boy” and “Captured Light” it seems there are interesting concepts to explore.
Don’t expect help with that though. The package is the epitome of stark with no printed song lyrics, pictures of the members, or even a listing of who they are, let alone what they play. That just adds to the mystery of the group whose layered swirl of often overdubbed acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, pensive harmonies and surprisingly jazzy percussion wrap around each other like the strands of a tapestry. There are elements of Future Games era Fleetwood Mac and David Crosby’s first solo release in the way the songs seem to emerge out of free form jams. That’s certainly true of “Fryshusfunk,” arguably the disc’s most potent track, that gradually shifts from dreamy to a full blown prog/metal freak-out, somewhat like old King Crimson meets Black Sabbath, over its nearly 8 minutes.
This is less a collection of songs than an album created to be experienced in its entirety– all 64 minutes of it– to fully appreciate what The Amazing has accomplished. It’s beautiful, intense, occasionally relaxing but most of all challenging music that borrows from a myriad of influences and never feels derivative. It could have been made any time in the past 40 years and will likely be just as powerful in 40 more.