Future Clouds & Radar Reviewed

Future Clouds & Radar Reviewed

Future Clouds & Radar

Peoria (The Star Apple Kingdom)

Following up 2007's eponymous double-disc debut, Peoria finds Future Clouds & Radar distilling principal Robert Harrison's pure pop ambition into a concentrated storybook salvo that ends just under the 30-minute mark. It's a little like XTC going backward to squeeze Skylarking out of Oranges & Lemons. A synthetic beat straight outta grandma's Kimball Swinger organ brings opener "The Epcot View" to life at a languid pace that builds toward a wistful, majestic chorus. As the song fades, Harrison's hypnotic guitar riff is supplemented by random electronic spurts and sputters that articulate the lack of transcendent vision lamented in the lyrics. "Mummified" is a seven-minute epic structured around a harrowing yet sensual downward spiral that embodies the notion of being consumed by longing. Similarly themed, "Eighteen Months" finds FC&R switching to full-bodied rock mode, complete with a horn-fueled chorus. "The Mortal" bends from pastoral to prog at the bridge like some lost art-rock classic of the 1970s that got airplay only in the wee hours before "Follow the Crane" breezily arcs skyward for a hopeful ending. Even without its predecessor's encyclopedic girth as a selling point, Peoria succeeds at moving Harrison's prolific, high-minded sense of musical adventure to higher ground. Sometimes less is more.

***.5

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