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The Flower Kings

Symphonic Prog

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The Flower Kings Islands album cover
3.83 | 237 ratings | 13 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (51:44)
1. Racing with Blinders On (4:33)
2. From the Ground (4:11)
3. Black Swan (5:58)
4. Morning News (4:06)
5. Broken (6:48)
6. Goodbye Outrage (2:25)
7. Journeyman (1:49)
8. Tangerine (4:13)
9. Solaris (9:32)
10. Heart of the Valley (4:42)
11. Man in a Two Piece Suit (3:29)

CD 2 (44:14)
12. All I Need Is Love (5:54)
13. A New Species (5:56)
14. Northern Lights (5:45)
15. Hidden Angles (0:52)
16. Serpentine (3:53)
17. Looking for Answers (4:45)
18. Telescope (4:52)
19. Fool's Gold (3:18)
20. Between Hope & Fear (4:42)
21. Islands (4:15)

Total Time 95:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Roine Stolt / vocals, ukulele, guitars, additional keyboards
- Hasse Fröberg / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Zach Kamins / pianos, organ, synthesizers, Mellotron, orchestrations
- Jonas Reingold / bass, acoustic guitar
- Mirko DeMaio / drums, percussion

- Rob Townsend / soprano saxophone

Releases information

Cover: Roger Dean
Label: InsideOut Music
Formats: Vinyl (3 discs), CD (2 discs), Digital
Release date: October 30, 2020

Limited edition 3LP+2CD box set with slipcase and 180 gram vinyl housed in two gate-folds, one single sleeve

Limited edition 2CD digipak

Thanks to karolcia for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy THE FLOWER KINGS Islands Music

THE FLOWER KINGS Islands ratings distribution

(237 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THE FLOWER KINGS Islands reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
3 stars The band is in a relaxed mood with this album that seems to be less structured and more improvised with some jazzy passages. The performance of the new musicians is spot on with some innovative keyboard lines. However, I have tried to enjoy this album by repeated listening, it's 90 minutes difficult to digest. It was supposed to be a single song, but it doesn't sound that way. The cohesion found in the first Flower Kings albums is not here. There are some good parts in various places in this long journey, but too many moments where my attention drift away. I don't know if a single album would have improved things because there's not a standout track here that still is sonically a beautiful work of art, but something is missing in the songwriting. Maybe I need to listen more, if not I will go back to my old Flower Kings or Kaipa albums.
Review by kev rowland
4 stars The Flower Kings are back with their second album since their break, which saw long-time keyboard player Tomas Bodin no longer in the band. These days the line-up is Roine Stolt vocals, ukulele, guitars, additional keyboards and Hasse Fröberg (vocals, acoustic guitar), who has also been there since the beginning, bassist Jonas Reingold, who has now celebrated 20 years in the role, plus the new guys, Zach Kamins (keyboards) and Mirko DeMaio (drums). I have always been interested in The Flower Kings since I heard Roine's solo album which led to the group being formed, more than 25 years ago. However, although I loved their early albums, since then I have been somewhat wary of new releases as to my mind, they can either be wonderful or overblown and way too long. So, what is Islands like?

The first thing I do now with an album by them is check the length, and this one is more than 90 minutes in length which sent up a warning sign for me, but only amber and not red, as it was still less than 100. However, I soon settled into the album and found I was smiling while listening to it, so it is obviously not that bad. In some ways this feels more relaxed and less frantic than some of their other releases, with Black Swan showing they know their way around pop mentalities and styles. They have previously been guilty of playing songs way too long, yet here we have a release where only one song is longer than 7 minutes and does not even reach 10! This is definitely not what I would expect from Roine and the boys, and the result is something which is as consistent and interesting as their last album, Waiting For Miracles. I have always been a fan of Bodin, but one wonders if the music would have moved in this direction were he still there. For fans new to the band, then this is a really nice introduction, while those of us who have been along for the full ride will lap it up.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
3 stars When one of your favorite bands starts doing the same stuff over and over again, it is the listener's responsibility to acknowledge that. When The Flower Kings returned in 2019, after some six years of artistic pause, everyone was rightfully happy, as these Swedes are among the top prog rock bands of the 90s generation without a doubt, owing this to their eclectic and retro sound, and the cast of extremely talented virtuosic musicians associated with the band. After a rather unimpressive thirteenth studio album, they surprisingly released another one in 2020, the double-album 'Islands', featuring a lovely artwork by Roger Dean. This new incarnation of TFK features some personnel changes, we have to say, these being a new drummer from Italy and a young keyboardist from the US, with everyone wondering where did Tomas Bodin go.

'Islands' sees the band take on a new approach to songwriting, and this is writing exclusively shorter songs, or at least, shorter for their standards. There are no epics this time, and not a single song exceeding ten minutes of playtime. The Flower Kings present an interesting collection of 21 songs, spread over two discs that are running for about 90 minutes, and these songs are quite different from one another! Despite this fact, after repeated listens, you cannot help but think that they are merely presenting all the musical elements that are associated to their name, in a big, long ride, where most of the songs are quite enjoyable, and a few are quite forgettable. Some highlights have to be 'Racing with Blinders On', 'Black Swan', 'Broken', 'Tangerine', 'Solaris', 'All I Need Is Love', 'Serpentine'.

Overall, 'Islands' is a good album, not essential or groundbreaking for the band, just pretty decent, elegant and well-played, with not much separating it from the previous one, except for the fact that it has more intriguing sounds. Not their best release, and certainly not a bad album, 'Islands' will go down as a nice addition to TFK's catalogue.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Islands is the Flower Kings' pandemic album - with basic tracks recorded in August 2020. It's one of those releases where, in part, the ability of artists to put out material under challenging circumstances was the actually important part of the equation, and the quality of the material in question may have been considered secondary to that.

However, the constraints of remote working seems to have left to some interesting shifts in their approach. Sure - it's another double CD album. But it isn't actually as massively overstuffed as some of their two-CD releases of the past - at 92 minutes and change, it's actually comparatively terse next to those two hour monsters. This tracks through to the length of the compositions - nothing breaks the 10 minute mark, and the 9 minute and 10 seconds Solaris is kind of an outlier as far as song length goes.

The approach here seems to have been to cook up shorter, more compact tunes, which perhaps may have proved easier under the circumstances but also seems to have been a genuinely useful creative exercise, forcing the Kings to look at their musical ideas and think hard about how much space they really need to get the point across. Given the tendency of the group to go over-long or to let ideas repeat themselves to the point of irritation in shakier moments in the past, this is a decidedly welcome development.

Add to this a return of the Zappa-esque playfulness of early years, and what you get here is a hopeful, sunny 2CD Flower Kings album like you remember from the 1990s, but with the fat trimmed away. You might bemoan that it took complete societal disruption to prompt them to try this, but I'd prefer to simply be glad that it happened.

Latest members reviews

4 stars 'Islands' is the fourteenth studio album by The Flower Kings, not to be confused with the King Crimson album of the same title. 'Islands' is a COVID record, hence the title. Roine Stolt has claimed that 'Islands' is meant to be regarded as one, giant suite of music. However, the tracklist of 'Island ... (read more)

Report this review (#2986813) | Posted by Magog2112 | Monday, January 29, 2024 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Another great, yet un-memorable Flower Kings album. I fell in love with The Flower Kings many years ago, and I am always interested in what they're doing. This latest release, "Islands", really showcases what they are so good at, which is top notch playing and employing great prog characteristics. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2541107) | Posted by LittleJake | Friday, May 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If last year somebody had told me that in 2020 I would be rating the new Flower Kings album higher than the new Wobbler album, first I would go: "new Wobbler? Hell yeah!" Shortly followed by a "Ugh, The Flower Kings!?!?" Yep, I've never understood this band and I've always grouped them in with t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2488539) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The Flower Kings are one of the modern-day institutions in progressive rock and have been producing consistently high-quality progressive music for 25 years and counting. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Islands is as technically proficient and satisfying as a prog rock album can be. It ... (read more)

Report this review (#2488511) | Posted by lukretio | Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Fantasy tangerine" keyboard landscapes are forever behind!" But the blues crunchy guitar tunes intensified. Complex, sometimes unnecessary, but this is the nature of the most sophisticated and multifaceted neo-progressive group titled The Flower Kings. It is not clear what was the reason, but t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2479336) | Posted by Devolvator | Monday, November 23, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars OK, I am a fanboy. I love pretty much everything Roine Stolt is involved in, but this truly is a great album in my opinion. This one is comprised of shorter more concise SONGS, while still retaining all of the elements of the Flower Kings' sound. Subtle, nuanced, beautiful, melodic, complex... You g ... (read more)

Report this review (#2478353) | Posted by Tull Tales | Sunday, November 22, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Flower Kings come off the back of releasing their increasing mediocre record from 2019 entitled "Waiting For Miracles". Did they come back with a better album in 2020? With the same lineup from 2018, Zach Kamins replacing longtime keyboardist Tomas Bodin, and Mirkko DeMaio taking over the drums. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2474774) | Posted by ComaEcliptic | Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Flower Kings sound is back! I initially thought the album was going to be TFK on sleeping pills in a way. Like a continuation of Waiting for Miracles except even less exciting. Welp, I was dead wrong. It's one of the most exciting albums Roine and Co. have done in a long time. I love it. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#2461907) | Posted by Hrychu | Saturday, October 31, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Oh, this is the good shtuff... The new 93-minute album "Islands" from The Flower Kings is genuinely a pleasant surprise. With only three members (Stolt, Froberg, Reingold) from the classic lineup of 20 years ago, they manage to put together a very solid album of symphonic prog with similitud ... (read more)

Report this review (#2458157) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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