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Von Hertzen Brothers - Approach CD (album) cover


Von Hertzen Brothers


Crossover Prog

3.78 | 63 ratings

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3 stars There's something remarkably inviting and welcoming on Approach. Perhaps it's the warm, soothing, slightly fuzzy and enveloping atmosphere of this set of songs or the prodigious talent for writing catchy, inspiring and engaging melodies. It might be the propensity to dress up the arrangements with crisp, rich and urgent vocal harmonies or the joyful, fiery guitar and peppy, powerful drumming. An accessible album through and through.

Where the Von Hertzen Brothers base their wilder excursions in some sort of pop rock format, it's full of reverence and admiration of past masters rather than what you would hear on the radio today, without ever sounding dated or copied in any way. I guess you could say it's a fresh, timeless and happy reminder of the power pop of the 60s and 70s, but with a lot of added adornments. These adornments come in various shapes and forms, but most prominently it grows into progressive rock territory in grand, expansive and sweeping arrangements with a flair for the dramatic (just check out the second half of After All!). At times the underlying musical backing in itself isn't very technical or particularly grandstanding, but the skilful and layered arrangements simply soar. I love it. But there's always an immaculate sense of space and low-key colouring in moodier passages where keyboards, guitars and bass are given room to be more introvert and intimately melodic. Well-needed breaks in an otherwise very hearty meal. Some seasoning also come in the form of spicy guitar riffs and solo excursions here and then, so regardless of the melodic gregariousness there is a decent amount of bite to be found.

It is a very consistent album with very few duds, but there is a slight tendency for fluff to creep in to the songs, where the harmonies get just a bit too ingratiating, the poppier side of the band gets a bit too much room and where the generally warm product gets bogged down in a starry-eyed, mid-tempo and brightly coloured puff of not wanting to bother anything or anyone. Ever. In other words - too smooth. And after a while the vocals can occasionally start to get annoyingly declamatory, bordering on preachy. On Stars Aligned, the other Von Hertzen Brothers album I've reviewed, this felt like less of a problem, perhaps because it felt slightly more daring and expansive in its ideas and moods.

Nevertheless, this is a very nice experience for anyone into the more melodic side of prog rock and I never regret coming back to it, even with some slight reservations in mind. It lifts you up and makes you happy. That's never a bad thing.

3 stars, but not at all far from 4.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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