King Radio's leader and sole permanent member, Frank Padellaro, belongs to that contingent of turn of the 21st century musicians enamored with the possibilities of orchestral, "progressive" pop as pioneered by the likes of the Beach Boys (more specifically, Brian Wilson), the Beatles, and the Moody Blues in 1966-1968. On Are You the Sick Passenger?, King Radio's first full-length album in six years, he as usual attempts his version of Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or Days of Future Passed, but without studios like Gold Star or Abbey Road to use, he is forced to approximate his idols' studio perfection on the cheap. Still, he does his best, and so creates tracks that sound like they have been worked over heavily to create a light, airy atmosphere. The trouble is that there is more to the music Padellaro loves than just studio effects. For one thing, his fey, becalmed tenor gives everything a lazy feel, and one longs for the vocal power of the Beach Boys or the alternating voices of the Beatles to give this music some variety. In fact, after a few tunes, one longs for any sort of variety, in terms of tempo, attack, arrangement, you name it. There was more to Brian Wilson than "Caroline, No" and more to the Beatles than "Strawberry Fields Forever," but you wouldn't know it listening to this acolyte. One thing his heroes were not was dull, but you can't say the same thing about King Radio. The album concludes with a hidden track, a CD gimmick you'd have thought would have been dispensed with by now, but that is actually appropriate to this kind of music. After three minutes and 15 seconds of the final credited song, "Haley's Comet," two minutes of silence ensue, followed by seven minutes or so of instrumental orchestral music that is really some of the most engaging work on the disc. Maybe Padellaro's real talent lies in arranging this kind of thing. If so, he should look into the movies.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann