Yes – Fly from Here: Review
The band is Yes; the album is Fly from Here.The legendary pioneers of progressive rock are back after a whole decade of rest! Well, back in the sense that they just released a record on June 22 (coming to EU and NA early to mid July). But are they back in the sense that what made them so highly worshipped is once again alive in their music? Not exactly…
The Music (rating: B)
- Fly From Here – Overture
- Fly From Here – Pt I – We Can Fly
- Fly From Here – Pt II – Sad Night at the Airfield
- Fly From Here – Pt III – Madman at the Screens
- Fly From Here – Pt IV – Bumpy Ride
- Fly From Here – Pt V – We Can Fly (reprise)
- The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be
- Life on a Film Set
- Hour of Need
- Into the Storm
Fans of Yes can expect Fly from Here to be an album of cheery moods and uplifting tracks. The vocals are silky smooth as well are the instruments in general. Both electric and acoustic guitars are included along with the heavy use of keyboards. It no doubt retains the general Yes sound with the vocal harmonies, intricate basslines and lengthy songs (especially the 20+ minute “Fly from Here” suite). On paper, this record reflects nicely with the rest of the Yes discography.
However, the actual content of Fly from Here is not totally overwhelming. The most noticeable issue is the inability of the sequencing to induce flow. Even within the six-part title tracks, the transitioning between them is virtually non-existent. They may as well be listed as separate tracks, not part of the same conglomerate. From Pt. 1 to Pt. 2: nothing; from Pt. 2 to Pt. 3: nothing; from Pt. 3 to Pt. 4… Obviously it is a truly noticeable weakness. But even within songs themselves, there are areas of visibly potential improvement. Especially with the intro of “Fly from Here – Pt. 4,” it is as though a repeat sign was lazily stuck at the end of the phrase. And looking at “Fly from Here – Pt. 3,” some of the switching from sections within the track is a little shaky and uncomfortable. Of course there are great ones too, such as the percussion introduction into the outro of the song. Basically, there is hit and miss involved with the album, only it is a tad too much of the latter.
On the upside, the band shows some of the quality musicianship and songwriting that garnered them such respectable acclaim in the first place. Although it is not near the quality of the band’s classics, Fly from Here most certainly delivers well-worked pieces with both upfront value and depth. Unfortunately, they have seemingly lost some of the spontaneity that created memorable moments as Yes had formerly been able to do. That is not to say Fly from Here is devoid of any spark, but it is simply not as consistent or powerful as the band has formerly proven they can produce. For example, “Life on a Film Set” gives what could have been an extremely gripping progressive section in the middle but just seems to be missing that click that elevates it from good to great. And then there is “Solitaire” (a lesser alternative to “The Clap”) which, again, is a nice piece short of stellar. Most of the album is this way: close, but no cigar.
All in all, Fly from Here is a decent album. There are undoubtedly aspects that can be improved upon with this release. But with the expectations the band has set for themselves, it is damn near impossible to achieve them. Fly from Here certainly fell short, but still retains a respectable quality. It is a recommendation for fans of the band, but there still are better options; no need to settle for good when there is still great.