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IQ

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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IQ biography
Founded in Southampton, England in 1981

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2019 ⭐

What's the difference between a band and a cult band? A charismatic frontman, able to seduce the audience with a single look? A mastermind, conducting his fellow geniuses to sheer excellence? A dedicated and addicted following lasting three decades? An outstanding live concept combining stage charisma, true emotions and self-ironic humor?

Take it all, add a catalogue in which every new entry is described as "the latest masterpiece" and you get IQ.

Rising from the ashes of THE LENS in 1981, the original line up of Peter NICHOLLS, Michael HOLMES, Martin ORFORD, Paul COOK and Tim ESAU formed a band achieving the impossible - the combination of such diverse styles as prog, punk, jazz and even reggae. Their first cassette album, later re-released on GEP as "SEVEN STORIES INTO 98", is still an outstanding example of that.

Both their first vinyl albums "TALES FROM THE LUSH ATTIC" and "THE WAKE" gained instant classic status in the "new wave of British progressive rock". Soon the band became a regular in London's world famous Marquee club, performed more than 200 gigs each year in the UK (as seen in the "LIVE FROM LONDON" video from 1985), and quickly attained a strong and loyal following.

After signing to POLYGRAM in 1987 with new singer Paul MENEL, they released "NOMZAMO" featuring the single "PROMISES" which made it high in the Dutch charts. European tours and the album "ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY?" followed, but MENEL and bass player Tim ESAU left the band shortly after in 1989.

What could have been the end was in fact just another beginning. NICHOLLS rejoined and was welcomed back enthusiastically at concerts in London and Paris. At the same time GEP was founded by musicians and associates of IQ with the rarities album "J'AI POLLETTE D'ARNU" becoming the label's debut release.

In 1993 IQ's new album "EVER" thrilled fans old and new with a modern and yet traditional interpretation of progressive rock. With new bassist John JOWITT (ex-ARK) the band embarked on a storming tour of the UK and mainland Europe, and played acclaimed festival appearances in the USA and South America. The tour was captured on film at the celebrated "F...
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IQ discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

IQ top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 568 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic
1983
3.78 | 672 ratings
The Wake
1985
2.84 | 395 ratings
Nomzamo
1987
2.79 | 360 ratings
Are You Sitting Comfortably ?
1989
4.07 | 769 ratings
Ever
1993
4.01 | 762 ratings
Subterranea
1997
3.40 | 193 ratings
Seven Stories into 98
1998
4.01 | 760 ratings
The Seventh House
2000
4.07 | 1029 ratings
Dark Matter
2004
4.11 | 1018 ratings
Frequency
2009
4.25 | 1403 ratings
The Road of Bones
2014
4.15 | 526 ratings
Resistance
2019

IQ Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 96 ratings
Living Proof
1986
3.92 | 113 ratings
Forever Live
1996
4.18 | 22 ratings
Subterranea Tour Live Germany
1999
4.10 | 20 ratings
Head Long to Argentina
1999
4.10 | 20 ratings
La Maroquinerie, Paris 18 Nov. 2000
2000
4.29 | 96 ratings
Subterranea: The Concert
2000
4.46 | 41 ratings
The Archive Collection - IQ20
2002
4.54 | 77 ratings
The Wake - Live At De Boerderij, Zoetermeer
2010
4.14 | 7 ratings
De Boerderij Zoetermeer Holland 23 October 2011
2012
4.65 | 58 ratings
Live On The Road Of Bones
2015
4.81 | 18 ratings
A Show of Resistance
2020
4.88 | 21 ratings
IQ40: Forty Years of Prog Nonsense
2023
5.00 | 2 ratings
Subterranea Live at De Boerderij
2023
5.00 | 2 ratings
The IQ Weekender 2024
2024

IQ Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.35 | 75 ratings
Subterranea - The Concert
2000
4.42 | 67 ratings
IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show
2004
3.81 | 38 ratings
Live From London
2005
4.42 | 129 ratings
Stage
2006
3.97 | 40 ratings
Forever Live
2007
4.49 | 42 ratings
Scrape Across the Sky
2017

IQ Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.30 | 71 ratings
J'ai Pollette d'Arnu
1991
4.66 | 36 ratings
For Ever Live
1996
3.43 | 81 ratings
The Lost Attic - A Collection Of Rarities (1983-1999)
1999
4.38 | 59 ratings
The Wake 2010 Remaster
2010
3.06 | 18 ratings
Re:Mixed
2011
4.62 | 107 ratings
Tales from the Lush Attic 2013 Remix
2013
4.73 | 45 ratings
Ever - 2018 Remix - 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
2018
4.67 | 6 ratings
The Archive Collection 2003-2017
2021

IQ Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 5 ratings
Fascination
1982
3.80 | 5 ratings
Awake And Nervous
1983
2.85 | 13 ratings
Barbell Is In
1984
4.14 | 7 ratings
The Legendary IQ Free Record
1984
2.80 | 5 ratings
Corners
1985
2.72 | 40 ratings
Nine in a Pond Is Here
1985
3.20 | 5 ratings
Nomzamo
1986
3.33 | 6 ratings
Intelligence Quotient
1986
2.87 | 6 ratings
Promises (As The Years Go By)
1987
3.25 | 4 ratings
Here There And Everywhere
1987
3.00 | 4 ratings
No Love Lost
1987
3.22 | 9 ratings
Passing Strangers
1987
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Big Balls Of Bert Christ
1989
2.00 | 2 ratings
One More Boxer
1989
3.27 | 11 ratings
Sold On You
1989
3.00 | 3 ratings
Drive On
1989
2.00 | 2 ratings
Bulba Neeny Noo
1992
4.00 | 7 ratings
The Darkest Hour
1993
3.67 | 32 ratings
Frequency Tour
2008
4.12 | 33 ratings
Tales from a Dark Christmas
2017

IQ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.11 | 1018 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars At the end of the 2000's, IQ once again took refuge in the structures of progressive rock and, keeping the seventies Genesis as a fundamental but not exclusive reference, released their tenth album, "Frequency" (2009). The band led by the consolidated voice of Peter Nicholls masterfully rearranges the sound bases of the genre in modernised melodies that flow without urgency or time parameters that limit their development, counting for the occasion on the solvent Mark Westworth on keyboards and Andy Edwards on percussion, replacements for Martin Orford and Paul Cook respectively, who left the band after the predecessor "Dark Matter".

IQ takes a very brief radio and Morse code fragment of the announcement of the controversial dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima to prelude the dense and dark "Frequency", a piece that kicks off an album that persistently makes use of gentle harmonic and neatly marked notes, like Westworth's heartfelt piano complemented by the atmospheric guitar delay of Mike Holmes in the ballad "Life Support", or the beautiful acoustic melody of "One Fatal Mistake", or the guitar arpeggios of Holmes, both in the half-time of the intense "Ryker Skies" dominated by Westworth's mellotrons and synthesizers and John Jowitt's powerful bass, and in the super-progressive "The Province", a piece that also interchanges the calm ambiences with the thrilling instrumental displays that the solid rhythmic base of Jowitt's bass and Edwars' percussion propose, surely the best track of the album, and the step prior to the emotive "Closer", the jubilant closing of "Frequency".

IQ sails placidly once again in the progressive oceans with "Frequency", not sounding repetitive but rather like crew members focused on continuing to explore a familiar but also naturally challenging route.

4 stars

 Dark Matter by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.07 | 1029 ratings

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Dark Matter
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Dark Matter" (2004), IQ's ninth album, shows the band's brilliant form in their follow-up to the excellent "The Seventh House", in a work with a lot of gloom and darkness and in which they use as fuel many of the resources used by progressive legends.

Already from the synthesizers and Hammonds of Martin Orford and the sound base built by the bass of John Jowitt and the percussion of Paul Cook in the fatalistic "Sacred Sound", the seventies spirit is present and also manifests itself comfortably between the acoustic accords of Mike Holmes and the watery keyboards of Orford in the half-time of the melancholic "Red Dust Shadow" and the Gilmourian guitar playing that leads into its evolution, or in Jowitt's dense bass and Orford's eerie mellotron that the ticking clock announces in the hopeless and relentless "You Never Will", or in the similarities to the insidious keyboards of Pinkfloydian "Welcome to the Machine" in the intimidating and spacey "Born Brilliant".

But the definitive character of the album is marked by the enormous suite "Harvest of Souls". More than 24 minutes in which, guided by Peter Nicholls's assured vocals, IQ deploy all their instrumental arguments in sections that flow between the acoustic gentleness of the confessional "i. First of the Last", the political sarcasm of the super progressive "ii. The Wrong Host", the stormy, sloppy harmony of "iii. Nocturne", Orford's beautiful piano in the menacing "iv. Frame and Form", the generous Genesian keyboards in the stark materialism of "v. Mortal Procession", and Holmes' epic guitar playing dissolving with the band's melodic complicity in "vi. Ghosts of Days". One of the best pieces in IQ's discography.

"Dark Matter" is, in the particular style and more modernised forms of the Englishmen, a great homage to progressive rock.

4/4.5 stars

 The Seventh House by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.01 | 760 ratings

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The Seventh House
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the excellent "Ever" and "Subterranea", IQ consolidate their particular style to compose pieces of deep luminosity and intensity, which take without denying or disguising the progressive seventies influences (the Genesis of the Gabriel era above all), but more and more focused on going their own way with the security that maturity and the passing of the years grants, as shown in "The Seventh House" (2000), the band's eighth album.

A work that links extensive progressive lucubrations, such as the opening "The Wrong Side of Weird", where Martin Orford's diaphanous keyboards give rise to a sonorous progression that gains strength and ends with a brief nod to Genesis' "Broadway Melody of 1974", or the aching "The Seventh House" and Mike Holmes' crystalline acoustic arpeggios preceding a shifting melodic density with Peter Nicholls' voice in perfect communion with Orford's keyboards (surely the best track on the album), with more abbreviated developments such as the doughy "Erosion" and John Jowitt's rocky bass accompanying Nicholls' lacerating singing, or the hopeful "Zero Hour" with Orford's steamy suspenseful keyboards and Holmes' magnificent final guitar solo.

And despite the insubstantial melody of "Shooting Angels" that neither its promising beginning nor the saxophone of guest Tony Wright manage to rescue at all, the desolate "Guiding Light", another track of extended duration, concludes the album superbly with delicate piano notes and sensitive acoustic chords lulled by Nicholls' peaceful voice until the instrumental explosion guided by the awakened percussion of Paul Cook and the jubilant and epic closing. Neo Prog in its purest essence.

"The Seventh House" is an admirable piece of work from IQ (one more, by the way...), as admirable as the fact of remaining untouched by external pressures and keeping the progressive roots safe at the beginning of the new millennium.

4 stars

 Subterranea by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.01 | 762 ratings

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Subterranea
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Back on the progressive path with "Ever", and just like their Genesis referents with "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", IQ fulfilled the dream of the double concept album with "Subterranea", the band's sixth. The enigmatic story of the teenager Kaspar Hauser, who appeared in the German city of Nuremberg back in 1828 without having had direct contact with other people, a famous character of scientific study related to human behaviour in situations aseptic to social relations and murdered in unclear circumstances in 1833 at the age of 21, is the source of inspiration for this massive and somber work of more than 100 minutes.

Divided into two parts of generous mileage, "Subterranea" presents IQ's fictionalised version of Kaspar's various experiences in the world that opened up before his eyes, using a generally intimate and complicit narration by Peter Nicholls and wrapped in intriguing and intricate walls of sound that both the guitars of Mike Holmes, the wide range of synthesizers and their infinite effects of Martin Orford, the rugged and imposing bass of John Jowitt and the more active participation than usual of Paul Cook on percussion, build.

Carefully crafted pieces flow harmonically without pause or haste, like the thick, hypnotic half-time instrumental "Overture", or the Genesian "Sleepless Incidental" and "Failsafe", or the beautiful and moving "Speak My Name" with Nicholls lulled by Orford's luminous keyboards and a delicate acoustic plucking by Holmes (one of the band's best ballads), or the aching melancholy of "The Sense In Sanity" overlaid by Orford's atmospheric synths, and the bridge that the instrumentals "State Of Mine" and "Laid Low" build to cross over from the first to the second part of the album, where the suffocating "Capricorn" and the emotive sax of guest Tony Wright, the electronic experimentation of "The Other Side" and the heartbreaking "High Water" with Holmes' melancholic guitar stand out, but above all the substantial 20 minutes of the epic "The Narrow Margin" that runs between classic elements of the genre, nods in its middle section to the jazziest Camel and shades of futuristic insanity, and whose denouement unleashes an excellent guitar solo before closing the piece and the album with gentle acoustic notes, a gem.

"Subterranea" not only cemented IQ's progressive comeback, but positioned them as one of their greatest exponents of the nineties onwards.

Very good.

4 stars

 Ever by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.07 | 769 ratings

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Ever
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the promotional tour of "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" and the subsequent departures of Paul Menel (vocals) and Tim Esau (bass), the continuity of IQ was very much compromised, to the point of programming farewell shows with Peter Nicholls for the occasion, which by those paradoxes of fate served for the former bandmates to reconnect and decide to give each other a second chance, finally embodied in "Ever", the band's fifth album (1993).

IQ, like a prodigal son, returns to the progressive parental lands with a proposal full of gloomy atmospheres and extensive instrumentation, which does not hide its proud Genesian influences and combines them with home- grown elements more in line with nineties sonorities, from the intense half-time of "The Darkest Hour" and Nicholls' heartfelt singing accompanied by Martin Orford's affable piano in its last section, the gloomy and hypnotic "Fading Sense" and the very thick bass of newcomer John Jowitt in the instrumental wall he builds in complicity with Orford's crisp keyboards and dramatised by the ambient chirping of birds, Its continuity in the stumbling animosity of "Out of Nowhere", until the piece called to be the backbone of the album, "Further Away" with its generous mileage and the good sensations transmitted by the arpeggiated and crystalline keyboards, mellotrons, the Wakemanian moog and flutes of Orford together with the singing of Nicholls, although at times it seems to exceed unnecessarily in its spacious margins, partly hindering its fluency.

And to ratify that the progressive winds guide the path of "Ever", "Leap of Faith" goes through threaded and placid constructions of seventies ambience in one of the best moments of the album, before giving way to the calm and conclusive "Came Down" and ending the work.

"Ever" was one of the solid foundations on which IQ's particular style would begin to solidify, consolidating it in their later works.

Very good.

4 stars

 Are You Sitting Comfortably ? by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.79 | 360 ratings

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Are You Sitting Comfortably ?
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Nomzamo" had already embodied a stylistic mutation in IQ's musical approach, largely shedding the languishing progressive structures of the second half of the 80's for a more digestible and commercially friendly orientation in which legends such as Yes (Big Generator) and Genesis (Invisible Touch) were also immersed, and which the band's fourth album, 1989's "Are You Sitting Comfortably?", ratified.

Although Martin Orford's futuristic opening keyboards accompanied by Mike Holmes' delicate acoustic notes on the persistent and critical "War Heroes" give it an interesting start, the album once again opts for accessible melodies and a dangerous ride over pop precipices such as the dreary "Drive On" and "Sold on You", or the insipid "Through My Fingers", pieces that do a disservice to the band's legacy.

And both "Nostalgia", the instrumental that precedes the mysterious "Falling Apart at the Seams" and "Wurensh", an intricate piece that Holmes rounds off with some beautiful Spanish guitar arpeggios in its last section, provide the best of the album with their reminiscences of the band's early work, before closing with the hypnotic and conformist "Nothing at All".

"Are you Sitting Comfortably?", the second and last work that featured the correct vocalist Paul Menel who left the band together with bassist Tim Esau after the promotional tour, is probably the most discussed and misunderstood album in the discography of the Englishmen, partly because it follows the aseptic path of "Nozmamo", and partly also because of the successful return to their sources that four years later from the subsequent "Ever" onwards redirected the path of IQ.

2.5/3 stars

 Nomzamo by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.84 | 395 ratings

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Nomzamo
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The departure of Peter Nicholls after the successful "The Wake" and the immediate addition of Paul Menel as vocalist for their third album, "Nomzamo", implied a change in IQ's musical direction, leaning towards light and translucent structures dominated by typical eighties synthesizers, to the detriment of the more complex and intricate sonorities timidly present.

And so, after the intriguing introductory keyboards of Martin Orford in the persistent "No Love Lost", the album travels for most of its journey through tame waters of few risks, with developments that approach the most melodic and accessible AOR, such as the jovial "Promises (As the Years Go By)", the ballad "Still Life", which Ray Carless' saxophone tries to save, or the festive "Passing Strangers" and "Screaming", the latter piece even with an undisguised pop wink.

The recessive gene of IQ's progressive vein is visible in fragments that add nuances to the general appearance of the album, such as Paul Cook's tenacious percussions with African reminiscences in the piece "Nomzamo", the extensive "Human Nature", or the emotive and pacifist "Common Ground", with Mike Holmes' arpeggiated beginning and a luminous counterpoint with Orford's synthesizers that lead to a beautiful guitar solo by Holmes towards the end. Surely the best piece on the album.

Despite the always laudable intention of expanding musical horizons, it seems however that with the departure of Nicholls the band loses more than it gains, even in its graphic aesthetics. "Nomzamo" is a decent album, to be sure, but it could have been better.

2.5/3 stars

 The Wake by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.78 | 672 ratings

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The Wake
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In the midst of the complex context faced by the bands that were the standard bearers in the revitalisation of the progressive movement, not only to resist the onslaught of the new musical currents of the decade, but also to deal with the scepticism that lurked in the specialised critics regarding the originality and value of their initiatives, IQ released their second album, "The Wake", in 1985. A conceptual work related to the sensitive and mysterious transition from earthly life to the unknown afterlife as a plot (a theme that with the corresponding hostile, bloody and thunderous nuances is also dealt with by Opeth in their "My Arms, Your Hearse" from 1998) to develop a proposal that goes through moments of darkness, despair and luminous hope.

Already from the energised and initial "Outer Limits" with Tim Esau's low and disturbing bass hits simulating the beating of a heart about to be extinguished accompanied by Martin Orford's eighties synth artillery and Paul Cook's raw drums, and the melodic verses of the eloquent Peter Nicholls reinforced by Mike Holmes' brief but determined guitar solo in the aggressive "The Wake", the influences of the Genesian universe sifted by IQ's particular style overfly the album; both in the changing "The Magic Roundabout" and Orford's anguished and anxious keyboards backed by Esau's marked bass in its prolonged and forceful introduction, and in the world music essay of "Corners" with the interesting sitar as protagonist, a piece in the style of the Peter Gabriel of those years.

And without leaving aside their progressive streak as a guide, IQ was not aseptic to the musical trend of that time, new wave elements (of bands like Cure or A Flock of Seagulls for example) are perceived in the guitar riffs of the extensive "Widow's Peak" and above all in those of the accelerated "The Thousand Days", before bringing the album to a close with the emotive optimism of "Headlong", one of the pieces that began to cement the style that would help define the Englishmen over the years.

Although "The Wake" is a good album, as well as a key piece for the consolidation of the band and the Neo Progressive movement, in my opinion it is a step below the freshness and daring that their debut album "Tales from the Lush Attic" brought with it.

3/3.5 stars

 Tales from the Lush Attic by IQ album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.81 | 568 ratings

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Tales from the Lush Attic
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars At a time when the predominance of trends such as new wave and more digestible pop were giving the progressive movement more than sour moments and even two of its most important representatives, Genesis (resolutely turning to new sounds) and Yes (looking for a formula for subsistence) were moving away from the recognisable canons, proud squires of the genre emerged to inject a breath of vitality and renewed vigour into it. One of them was IQ. With almost no budget and taking advantage of an offer from Major Record Company to record and produce 1,000 LPs in five days for 1,500 pounds at the time, the Englishmen released "Tales from the Lush Attic", their debut album, in the second half of 1983.

The huge suite "The Last Human Gateway" kicks off the album with a theme related to the recurring human quest for immortality and the tragic contradiction of not being able to bring closure to the cycle of life, with a prolonged and suspenseful introduction dominated by the keyboards of Martin Orford and the sublime singing of Peter Nicholls until the irruption of the clean and persistent sounds of the moog, to then go back and forth through moments of calm and agitation that towards the end intensify with the participation of the riffs and guitar solos of Mike Holmes and the active drums of Paul Cook, closing the piece epically. One of the album's best.

And both the agitated and disturbing "Through the Corridors" and the instrumental "My Baby Treats Me Right 'Cos I'm a Hard Lovin' Man All Night Long" with Orford's rushing classical piano solo, both brief interludes interspersed, precede the Genesian (Gabriel era) "Awake and Nervous" and the multiform "The Enemy Smacks", a suite that without reaching the mileage of "The Last Human Gateway", describes the deterioration of a heroin addict in three phases with an instrumentation that adds to the identifiable progressive elements, bluesy touches, hardened hard rock riffs and lysergic atmospheres reminiscent of the 70's, with a solid base built by Tim Esau's bass and Cook's intensity on drums until the conclusive ending with the full band.

"Tales from the Lush Attic" is a very good album and an unbeatable start for IQ, a precursor band of neo-prog that, with few exceptions, has been consistent throughout their career, respecting their original roots.

4 stars

 Frequency by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.11 | 1018 ratings

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Frequency
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by progrockeveryday

4 stars Yes! Great album. It starts powerful but immediately takes you to a different atmosphere. The key sounds and soundscapes are really cool in this album. They shine more with this kind of sounds and lighter compositions.

After listening to "Resistance", I feel that they have gone into a heavier direction that I don't enjoy at all. They tend to repeat things and vocals (imo) are a bit monotonous, so a metal-oriented album for me becomes more tedious.

This is not the case, this album sounds great, varied, with changes of rhythm, textures, beautiful ballads. I hope their next album will be more like this one.

Thanks to kev rowland for the artist addition. and to projeKct for the last updates

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