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Abacus - Everything You Need CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.29 | 34 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 'Everything You Need' - Abacus (44/100)

Though I wasn't too impressed (and even a bit irritated) with Abacus' 1971 debut, it was arguably the best album they ever put out. Even more importantly, they had demonstrated themselves to be potentially very capable of making solid progressive rock. Unfortunately, much more of the album had been allotted to their pursuit of blithering psychedelic, which could have even worked, had it not been written so poorly. As my bad listener's luck would have it, Abacus' second album Everything You Need distanced the band even further from their potential pastoral progressive greatness, instead opting to sink deeper into their psychedelic rut. Thankfully there's nothing so annoying as "Radbod Blues" on this album and it does feel like they found a better sense of style popwise, but the improvements Abacus have made the second time around are generally outweighed by glaring issues, many of which plagued them on the debut as well.

I mean, though the debut left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth, they had expressed enough potential to stay my interest, and after all, there are plenty of bands out there who take an album or two to really take flight. While it's certainly not true in Abacus' case, Everything You Need honestly sounds like the work of a different band. Rather than trying to approximate a facsimile of British symphonic rock, they've found a sound that better suits their artistic approach. The songwriting is a little more consistent this time, but it's still generally crude. "Anyway We Can" is a weak psychedelic interpretation of classic rock n' roll, "Slide Away" is a better written (but still mediocre) slower power ballad-like tune. "Ivan Hood the White Knight" is the best written song of the four ("Thing We Do" isn't great either!) but it's held back by terrible Crusade-related lyrics. On a better note, Chris Williams' vocal performance sounds improved from the self-titled, not necessarily because his vocal chords have improved any but because he generally refrains from the annoying inflections that ruined his singing throughout the debut.

Already having a firm idea of the band's developments by the time the album's second side rolls around, it's understandable that a twenty minute, so-called 'prog epic' might be met with doubt or confusion. While it's true that it falls far short of proper suite standards and feels more like a sequence of self-contained songs, Abacus have saved their best ideas for last. There are hints of the bucolic symph-prog Abacus I heard on the debut, but there's also smatterings of jazz, uncharacteristically weird instrumental sections and ample variety. It's a pretty lame attempt at an ambitious 'epic' if I ever I saw one, but taken in parts rather than looking at the twenty minutes as a whole, there are moments where I'm left to question if I may have had Abacus mistaken for a worse band than they actually are. Of course, there's always a weak idea around the corner to prove my original thought right.

Perhaps I feel somewhat more warmly towards Everything You Need, if only because Abacus have cleared the worst issues related to inconsistency up for the most part. I can still safely call it an inferior album to the debut however; there are no moments of potential greatness like "Cappucino" here; every minute of the album testifies to their mediocrity this time around. Ah well; they tried to tackle a twenty minute side-long epic, so that deserves some sort of acknowledgement. Right?

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |


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