International Daylight

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On first listen, International Daylight sounds like a hodgepodge of half-digested prog rock influences shaped into complex songs for complexity's sake. But subsequent spins reveal creativity, a lot of variety, and some catchy choruses. For a debut album, this is very strong, no doubt. Belgium's Mindgames approaches the prog rock genre with the utmost respect for its rules. Each song goes through a number of contrasting sections; "Signs from the Sky" pushes this to the limit, its chorus threatening to break the structural integrity of the song every time it comes back. The lyrics are highly intellectual, often too literate for their own good; it's hard to make words like "fundamental," "integrity," "distinctive," "assimilation," or "remarkable" (all taken from "Selling the Moon") sound poetic or flow easily. And yet, despite a certain pretension and pomposity, International Daylight impresses. "Mental Argue" opens the album on a weak note: Drummer Benny Petak is not that precise a timekeeper in slow tempi and the tune, heavy in Pink Floyd influences, takes time to lift off -- but it eventually does. Other influences include late-'70s Genesis, Rush, and FM. In its softer, almost neo-prog-ish moments, the music is strongly reminiscent of Fruitcake, the comparison extending to Bart Schram's singing. A flute in "Factory of Illusion" adds a Camel touch. "An Approach to Mankind" achieves the best synthesis of influences and contains the best episodes. International Daylight makes a technically proficient, sturdy album of timeless progressive rock. One wishes it had a more pungent personal touch, but that's something the group might work on for its next album.

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