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Fren - All the Pretty Days CD (album) cover




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4.05 | 68 ratings

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5 stars This year, I have heard nothing short of amazing albums. Most progressive rock releases that came about have been amazing, with some albums quickly becoming some of my favorites from this year, with only 4 so far being what I consider masterpieces in their own right. However, that number is only getting slightly higher with this strange, obscure, but beautiful release. If you don't know Fren is an instrumental progressive rock band from Poland, and so far they released only 2 albums and 2 EPs. They have an aesthetic that is interesting and cryptic, but strangely pretty in some shape or form. 2 years ago they released their first LP Where Do You Want Ghosts to Reside, and this year on the 8th of October they released their sophomore album All The Pretty Days, and this release surprised me when I first heard it. It was so beautifully done yet strange that I both immediately planned to make a review for it, whilst also knocking my head around what to say about this wonderful album. I can say though, with utmost confidence that this may be the best album I have heard this year. Yep, even better than Hellfire, Shiki, or Laminated Denim.

This album begins with Hammill, and my guess is the title is about Peter Hammill of Van Der Graaf Generator fame. The first song is one beautiful opening melody. It begins with this lovely piano that then gets swept up with a guitar, but then both clear out with a small cymbal beat with small influxes of the piano and guitar creeping in sometimes. The guitar and piano melodies return in some form after a bit but with a more lush sound as the bass is introduced carrying the rhythm with the drumming getting more and more pronounced. Just how lush the pianos and guitar sounds create this rising and epic feeling, almost like a moment in a show or anime where the main character after being beaten up by the bad guy starts to feel this surge of power and determination that rises and rises, pumping the viewer up for something amazing. This rising action gets higher and higher, building and building, making the anticipation with every little beat from the cymbal to the small melodies created with the guitar and piano growing more uneasy, just teasing you from something amazing. As you think there may not be something in the wake of the rising action, the drums get louder until it crashes down sweeping you off your feet as the melody full comes to a completion point, with the guitars soaring higher than ever, and the piano in the back creating a pedestal for the amazing rhythms found on the bass and drums. This goes on until it pitters out, with the piano and guitar being left, just like how the song started. This rise, this tease allows this song to be such a good opening for this album. It creeps up slowly, giving you hints and nods to what is about to unfold. This movement was what I loved about many post-rock groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and This Will Destroy You. I am reminded of my first experiences with those groups in this song, almost at the same awe-inspiring scale. If the first song is this good, then what would the rest of the album be like?

We get our answer within Wiosna. They start with the very atmospheric and triply guitar that then is followed by a beat showing off that while similar, this band wants to do different things with each song. The piano inclusions are still there before it transitions into this very technical guitar solo with an almost doom metal bass carrying it in the back. Each little movement in this song is slightly different from the last. After this one, we get a more bass-led segment that builds up into some hits on the cymbals. Those cymbals lead into drumming consisting of very lush atmospheric sounds that rise in with the guitar and bass that then go back to the original melody from the first bit of the song. This song concludes with a lovely little guitar solo that rides its highs in spades. In just 10 minutes we get a feel for how this band operates. Little movements with their small defining moments, each different from the last, but so versatile in the song's core. The guitars in this song are the highlights, with such a strong sound yet still incredibly teeming that they become this well-realized sound that transcends into completely new levels. Just two songs in and I am pretty much in love with this album right from the get-go.

Wiosna was a very guitar-driven piece, but Romantik is a lot more piano-driven, and it is just beautiful. The little pitter patterns on the piano lead the piece as more instruments slowly get more introduced, more developed, and more pronounced as rhythms start to get more expressive, and all without words too. The pure cathode riffs the guitar applies with the piano in the back moving the song forward makes this more than incredible it becomes almost mind-bending. The rest of the song is mostly piano-led with echoes of each key pressed down, creating this aura of pure beauty. The whole magic of this song is consistent, creating a melancholic, but well-realized piece of music that is some of the best, and most realized bits of music to ever grace my ears. Just the sheer volume this group can pull, creating these long but well-developed movements that speak volumes without speaking at all just makes them incredible. If anything, this is a pure merriment of sound that I do not always see from progressive rock, much fewer post-rock groups, with the only exception being probably Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky. What Fren has on here just grows into this sound that I love. It is new, it is fresh, and it is wonderful.

The shortest song on here, Bajka, being only three minutes, still 100% delivers on the expectations set with the previous three songs, and not only meets those expectations but raises the bar even higher. In just a short amount of time it builds into this wonderful, hypnotic, and almost spooky piece of music with such an odd, wobbly guitar sound that rises into this amazing movement of sound before being stopped by the piano, delivering on an incredibly profound melody, that, despite its shortness, makes for a joyful listening experience.

The title track is such a treat. It begins with this tribal beat led by the bass guitar, really allowing the band to shine on that aspect of the music. It creates this intense but very cathartic sound that I have only heard some metal bands doing. It starts slow, with beats creeping into a full rhythm with the piano slowly taking charge before being replaced with the guitar that continues the rhythm of the whole ordeal before reaching an early climax, however that crescendo would only be an appetizer to the rest of the song, which continues the slow-moving beat patterns, but contain different guitar inflections that create a very interesting, almost middle eastern feel. How it rises up and up, slowly building on each riff until it hammers that crescendo once more, but with a more developed flair giving it that push it needs. It is honestly one of the most gratifying songs on this album, and how the crescendo is not just a one small little second thing with it going on for a bit of a while just makes this tune so much more of an epic track well deserved for the output this album has already received. It is so well done, that I am honestly speechless after it is all over.

It would've been a very amazing masterpiece if the album ended there, but instead, the band decided to slip in one last song that just makes this album peak above all the others I have listened to, and that song is the 24-minute epic of Turque. This song is extremely different from the rest, not being very slow and methodical, but rather quick the punch and extremely bizarre sounding from the start. The guitar with this almost King Crimson, Larks Tongues In Aspic sound, bending and shaping throughout the song, before slowly melting away with the keys taking lead, creating an ambiance like no other that reminds me of the first song off the album, giving me a vivid sense of nostalgia. This piano melody consists most of the middle of this piece, going up and down, crafting this aura of a strange mixture of joy and sadness, making for a beautiful but strange movement that weirdly warms my heart. It all just rises into this beautiful piece of music that then leads into the closing minutes of the song, being much like the first having this guitar lead movement that is very bizarre, but yet still so enchanting. Just how it lays itself down, creating this gripping sound that builds and builds into this weird mixture of music. It also builds into the only part that has any semblance of singing, but it is very acapella and only plays at the closing minute, but in that short amount of time, it is an unexpected but climatic finisher for an album that not only exceeded my expectations but exceeded what exceeded my expectations in the first place.

It is a crying shame that this album is not talked about as much as I hoped. Not only is this one of the best albums of 2022, but it is also one of the most beautiful, groundbreaking albums that have been released in progressive rock, post-rock, and general music history for me. This album should not be overlooked, and I implore you to take listen to this album and share it with others. Plus support the band as well, because with an album like this, how could you not? This album is fantastic in every direction, and it speaks a lot without even speaking once.

Dapper~Blueberries | 5/5 |


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