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Moon Safari - Himlabacken Vol. 1 CD (album) cover


Moon Safari


Symphonic Prog

3.91 | 355 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Lover's End was a really important album for me when it came out in 2010. I was going through a hard time in my life and it was the friend that I needed to help me through it. Even more than three years after its release, that album remains one of my favorites and is one of the few pieces of music that is truly special to me that can lift me up whenever I need it. It's obviously unfair to expect Moon Safari's next album to match my adoration of their last, but the nice thing is that it doesn't try to, and presents a different kind of material than the last couple of offerings.

When you look on the surface of Himlabacken Vol. 1, sure, it's got the normal Moon Safari tropes: intricate vocal harmonies, a certain sense of whimsy, clean symphonic instrumentals, and a general upbeat attitude (thankfully, amidst a genre of very bleak music). Basically, if you know you like Moon Safari, you know you like Moon Safari. Digging a little deeper though, there are some good progressions in their sound from the last album. Whereas Lover's End mostly followed the 'post-breakup mood swings,' Himlabacken's unconnected songs allow for a greater variation of mood and style which ultimately creates a more diverse album. There's the usual melancholy, a little joking, some dreamy sequences, surprisingly serious moments, and of course some purposefully over-the-top sequences. This album also sees the band in a more adventurous place in terms of harmony (when compared to themselves at least) that caught me off guard in a good way the first couple of times I listened. The usual musical stuff is just as strong as it's ever been, with the singing/harmonies being the strong point by far and the unfortunately very few substantial instrumental passages being a distant second.

While I really enjoy the base musical components found here, they are only occasionally put to very good use and ultimately the real downfall of Himlabacken is that not enough of the songs are great. It starts off really strong with the 'Kids' / 'Too Young to Say Goodbye' pair but falters a lot in the middle. It doesn't really pick up again in a great way until the second- to-last song 'Diamonds' and then unfortunately finishes rather weakly. I don't think any of the songs are bad, but I only find myself going back to revisit about half of them. The album also doesn't gain much by listening to it in sequence, though it does get a nod for being a perfectly digestible 50 minutes. It's unfortunate that only a handful of the songs here standout because man, those few are really spectacular; I don't think I'll ever get tired of the vocal melody in 'Diamonds' or the chorus of 'Too Young to Say Goodbye.'

The biggest question that always pops up in relation to Moon Safari is 'yeah, but is it really prog?' By the strict definition, yeah, it sort of is. The right answer, though, is that it doesn't really matter. Even without the technicalities and solos of their contemporaries, Moon Safari is a band that obviously puts a lot of feeling and emotion into their music; Himlabacken Vol. 1 may not be the best example of that, it's still easy to see. While this new album has enough good material to please existing fans, for interested newcomers there's no need to look here until you've been through both Blomjud and Lover's End.

m2thek | 3/5 |


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