Trying to Kiss the Sun

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At its best, Trying to Kiss the Sun is derivative prog rock with Spock's Beard's Day for Night as its main source. In its worst moments, it turns into a corporate vision of what American progressive rock should be. The surprising thing is that RPWL comes from Germany. These guys sound like they've been raised listening to Kansas all day and turned to Spock's Beard when the group hit it big in Europe at the end of the 1990s. Singer Yogi Lang clearly makes an effort to sound like Neal Morse: same range and phrasing. And what about the heartwarming vocal harmonies, the well-controlled hard rock energy, the obligatory dreamy ballad? They're all here. The only element missing is a couple of technically challenging numbers -- virtuosity. Indeed, RPWL simplifies, churning out a neo-prog type (and commercially viable?) version of its American counterpart. All that said, the group writes potent songs (although a little light and predictable in the lyrics department) and interprets them well. The title track opens with sitar and tabla, hinting at a surprise that will not materialize once the actual song kicks in. "Waiting for a Smile" and "Tell Me Why" are good rockers with an artsy twist, while the closer, "Home Again," sticks to the Pink Floyd recipe for a stretched slow number (guitar solo included). But listeners have heard it all before....

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