This is what happens when you spend your days receiving and listening to bunches of new music from bands new and old. One slips under the radar, hopefully not one of your favorites. But it happens. Last I listened to Riverside was an EP from 2011. Nothing since. Thought they were over. Nope. I just missed 2013's Shrine of New Generation Slaves. Hate when that happens.
So, now I'm back on board with their latest and sixth album Love, Fear, and The Time Machine. It seems Riverside remains in fine form, if not returning a bit to their past. This album has that melancholic melodic and atmospheric progressive rock feeling like Out Of Myself. But to say a Riverside album is melancholy is like becoming the master of the obvious. Lyrically and in his compositional style bass player and vocalist Mariusz Duda would be betraying himself if he did something else.
Yet, aside from the established "Riverside sound," there are at least three things that keep me coming back, keeps me interested. First, returning to Duda, I do enjoy his effortless melodic vocal style. Sure, not being careful, he could probably lull the most enthusiastic person, like that freaky aerobic instructor Richard Simmons, into lethargic apathy. But his delivery is smooth, emotional, and soothing. I kind of ignore the lyrics most of the time, not wanting to be depressed. According to Duda, the lyrical theme revolves around transformation, like making an important decision. Then wondering and discovering what may come of it. Metaphorically, to express this, he bookends the album with the quizzical and introspective Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By a Hat?) and Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching).
Of the other aspects of Riverside, their ability to weave simple melodies with expressive technical progressive rock has always been a strong point. Perhaps technical is not the correct term as I never find myself confounded by their arrangements. Rather they make their prog wonkery accessible, and then subservient to the song, no matter it's length. Every song moves by it's melody, yet the melody travels the arrangement like the River Thames crosses southern England to the sea.
Thirdly, I really dig Piotr Grudzinski's guitar work. In his solos, especially, he's got that clean classic style, equally proficient, stirring and emotional, like David Gilmour, yet not sounding one bit like him. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that he really got enough room to express himself. You hear some good solos in the aforementioned first and last tracks, and also Saturate Me, Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire, and Towards The Blue Horizon. Yet, some how the arrangements seem to absorb them, requiring you to listen more carefully to catch them. It's not a criticism, but a listener's observation.
Fundamentally, as said earlier, Love, Fear, and The Time Machine is classic Riverside. It's their melodic melancholic and atmospheric progressive rock fans have come to expect and enjoy. Recommended.