UNITOPIA - The Garden

Unitopia - The Garden

14 songs
101:06 minutes


I should have been warned from the outset. Apart from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, I can’t think of any viable prog rock double-album that works. Unitopia are a six-piece from Australia that started about ten years ago and released a debut album in 2005 that received little attention. You wonder what devil rode them to make them now come back with a one hundred minute double CD album that starts out nicely enough with a moody, mellow intro then seguing into the title track, a more than twenty minutes long excursion into a facets of melodic progressive rock, from the early Seventies to the contemporary art pop movement. The end of the five-parted suite is even shamelessly stolen by Genesis’ übersong Supper’s Ready. The following ten minute piece Angeliqua displays good ideas, but is overloaded with its kitsch chorus. The remaining three tracks allow Unitopia to enter halftime relatively unscathed, even I Wish I Could Fly with its kitsch arena rock chorus can make it through, although with a guilty-pleasure label, which can also be said for the hyper-realistic, buoyantly colourful cover artwork.

It’s the second disc that mars the overall good impression. The opener Journey’s Friend is once again a five-parted epic, if only sixteen and a half minutes long this time, although not taking the listener by surprise again as on the first disc. Afterwards, everything sounds a bit like filler material, there are just too many love songs, resulting in insipid balladry, making you wonder if the Australians had not better stopped after fifty minutes.

You can’t accuse the band of being pretentious, but they have acted overambitious and diluted a work that could have easily have been worth seven points. As nobody is forced to listen through it all, I still remain with five points, although I wish next time the band focuses on stringent songwriting instead of trying to create a masterpiece for which they don’t yet have the potential.

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