When you listen to a band like The Skys, especially the latest album Automatic Minds, you instantly feel as though you’re in safe hands…it feels and sounds very familiar and there’s good reason for that. They are Lithuania’s biggest and best rock band for starters. Not much competition you may think and you’d be right really, especially by comparison to other countries, but that doesn’t stop it being cool. Imagine being the best band in your country!
The second thing that makes it sound familiar is their clear and obvious love of Brit prog and especially Pink Floyd. Some of you may be yawning at that thought and thinking ‘do we need another Pink Floyd’? or are you thinking ‘Floyd were masters, don’t even go there’?
Well, they have gone there and it’s a really pleasant experience listening to this album. When they include on this album the wonderful guitar talents of Snowy White and the incredible vocal talents of Durga McBroom then Floyd fans know how much of a genuine connection The Skys have to Pink Floyd and they are only part of the illustrious set of talented people they’ve assembled to help create Automatic Minds.
There are plenty of tracks to take to your heart on this album and although they’ve surrounded themselves with a talented bunch of musicians that doesn’t mean they can’t do it themselves, they most certainly can and on my particular favourite The Guardian of the Water Tower they show that in spades with some lovely vocals, in particular from the superbly talented and beautiful Bozena Buinicka. Listening to her keyboards alone should be enough to endear her to even the harshest prog-rock critic but there is something old school, warm, charming and disarming about her voice on every song and it’s that which draws me in every time I listen, not just on this track either. From the opening track Get Rid of This with its heavy guitar opening and typewriter sound effects, sexy as chuff bass and Bozena sneering and snarling at the listener – she always holds your attention.
When Bozena trades vocal blows with Jonas Čiurlionis, as they do throughout the album, it works very well, a good match to these ears. The pair are even better when they sing together as they do on the impressive title track which also brings out the best in others on the album. Durga McBroom, for instance, is at her best on this album, on this track (of the three she’s involved in) add to that some lovely guitar and outstanding saxophone and again you have another album highpoint amongst a lot of high points.
Speaking of saxophone, Justin Klunk is the man responsible and it further enhances that Floyd link but it is oh so chuffing sexy and if you closed your eyes, it could easily be from Dark Side of the Moon. Klunk also features later on The Singing Tree and I confess, being the Floyd fan I am and the big soft emotional beast I am, the sound of sax played like this gives me butterflies every time and reduces me to mush.
I loved the journey this album took me on and it finishes with the track Communication just as it started, a great vocal, this time from the talented India Carney, with some lovely guitar work from Jonas and by the end you feel as though the journey was more than worthwhile. It was enjoyable, entertaining and it was in safe, familiar company…company you look forward to meeting up with again.