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IQ - The Wake CD (album) cover





3.79 | 535 ratings

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3 stars Given the staying power of IQ throughout the years, it's great to go back and hear how they got their start. I have to say, if I had been smart enough to be listening to this album when it came out, I probably would not have predicted much long-term success for the band. This is definitely an album created by young, talented musicians who seem to be on the same page from a composition standpoint. However, they still needed to mature as a group, which they certainly would do in later albums.

The extended pieces are for the most part well done, especially given the time period. I think even at this point, IQ had their own identity and were not simply copying Genesis as best they could, even though some similarities are much too obvious to even attempt to deny (such as Holmes' Hackett-like guitar and Nicholls' Gabe-esque wails). Outer Limits is an especially refreshing opener, with an ominous bass/synth intro leading to the bright, uptempo vocal section. Orford also quickly establishes himself with tasteful synth arrangements and riveting flourishes. The Magic Roundabout and Widow's Peak are also excellent pieces, mixing up tempos and moods throughout and leading to full, guitar driven finishes. The one exception to the rule is the closer, Headlong. The conclusion is catchy and well done, but there's too much build up featuring Nicholls on vocals--his voice is just not of an acceptable quality to be that exposed for that long.

The shorter songs are also generally high quality. The title track is relatively simply and heavy, but offers some great guitar and is catchy if nothing else. The Thousand Days has a basic chord progression that matches at least three other popular songs I can name off the top of my head, but is at least uptempo and easy on the ears as well. The only true dog on the album is Corners: simple, plodding, and wholly uninteresting.

Beware that Nicholls' voice is quite rough--generally it is not a good idea for vocalists who have nasally and shrill voices to forget about paying attention to their pitch, and he is no exception. Fortunately, most of the songs are written well enough and feature enough going on underneath the vocals that the often poor singing does not distract terribly from the listening experience. All in all, The Wake is one of few quality and cohesive albums from the time period, and as such should be given proper respect.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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