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Flying Colors - Flying Colors CD (album) cover


Flying Colors


Prog Related

3.53 | 212 ratings

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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
2 stars As a loyal Dream Theater fan, I was immediately excited when Mike Portnoy first hinted at the idea of this project around 2009 if I recall correctly. This was before there was any sign of Portnoy leaving Dream Theater, so for the most part this idea was put on the back burner for a while. When that sudden dramatic turn of events did occur in September of 2010, the sprinklings of news about this mysterious project involving Neal Morse, Dave LaRue, and Steve Morse became more and more frequent. It wasn't really until late 2011 that it was announced as a "serious" project under the moniker Flying Colors. At this point, I was incredibly excited for the project, expecting a fantastic medley of symphonic prog and jazz fusion from the "Transatlantic camp" and "Dixie Dregs camp" as Portnoy called it.

However, when the promo video came out which, as far as I know, announced Casey McPherson as a new aspect of the project, I was now more intrigued than excited. With a pop singer at the band's helm, I now expected an incredibly strong crossover prog album to emerge from the studio. The first samples seemed promising, with, as I expected, a strong fusion of progressive elements and very accessible melody lines. I patiently awaited the album's release, and when it did, I got quite a shock when first listening.

Some tried to call this album crossover prog when it first came out just as I had expected it to be. If that descriptor stayed, it would have been the most extreme and watered-down case of crossover I've seen since Bjork. In more accurate terms, this album is progressive pop. The prog elements brought by the four instrumentalists are obvious, but the accessible elements brought by Casey and no doubt Mike as well are quite apparent. The melodies are pop-rock material; the vocals are emotive in a pop way; and many of the instrumental parts, while having a prog aspect, are dominated by pop rock chord structures and "traditional" arrangements.

Of course, all these pop references make this album incredibly catchy and well-presentable to the more standard rock fans. However, to a prog listener, I can't say I was terribly keen on many of the tracks on the album like "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" (an interesting track title to begin with), "Kayla," "The Storm," "Love is What I'm Waiting For," and others. While the closer "Infinite Fire" seems to be what I was expecting for the rest of the album with killer classic Spock's Beard-esque bass lines, precision drumming, and nice vocal harmonies and chord structures across the 12-minute epic, the preceding 48-minutes isn't at bright.

Don't get me wrong - this album isn't "bad" per se. If you're looking for a very high quality pop rock album that has more going for it than your standard pop rock album, look no further. The songs are, in their own respect, well put together, incredibly catchy, and "nice sounding." Granted a pretty thick layer cheese coats practically every riff on the album and most of the melodies are incredibly sugary, but if that kind of stuff suits you this album pulls it off quite well.

In the end, this album is good for those looking for some proggy pop rock, but bad for those expecting the tasty proggy fusion that probably should have come out of a collaboration with the four instrumentalists in all their glory. While the album has its bright spots, the album was overall a huge disappointment. The keyboards are distant and quiet in the mix, Steve Morse's blues-tinged riffs are terribly watered down for the most of the songs, and the potential for Dave LaRue's epic basslines and Mike Portnoy's killer drum lines seem to have been cut short except for in a few songs like "Forever in a Daze" and "Infinite Fire." Overall, though, the music is high quality in its progressive pop bearings, but not much else. It'll be interesting to see if the band makes another album and if they do how the music will progress, if it does. Be warned if you are expecting a full out prog album. 2+ stars.

Andy Webb | 2/5 |


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