Early this year I bought the Perfect Beings debut based solely on the good reviews it was getting. Yes, sometimes I like to live dangerously and buy music without actually hearing it first. I was not disappointed. The album, as I stated in my review, was an impressive and coherent collage of styles from the Beatles to Yes, to Tears for Fears to Pink Floyd and several others. There were great melodies, marvelous instrumental segments and an overall feeling that this was progressive rock that even my wife could like. In short I loved the album.
So now Johannes Luley and co. have prepared the follow up to “Perfect Beings” and the questions that come up are: Will it be as good? Will it sound the same in a good way or will it sound like a rehashing of ideas? Will the band do something new that complements their sound or will they do something really radical that greatly diverges?
The answer to these questions is that Perfect Beings have both continued with the sound and style they established so successfully on their debut while simultaneously taking new strides. One of the great praises I can offer them on this album is that they’ve developed their own sound better. The first album had a definite Yes influence, or rather Steve Howe influence in the guitar playing, and with a Rickenbacker bass rumbling along, the Chris Squire (RIP, dear bass god) comparisons would have been justified.
On “Perfect Beings II” I feel the Howe/Squire similarities are considerably reduced though when they crop up they certainly stand out. I also feel the Pink Floyd keyboard sound is stronger this time; however, one should consider that “sound” does not mean “style”. The music tends to be more upbeat and uplifting than much of Pink Floyd’s more atmospheric synthesizer parts.
But really what there is to love here is not how the music resembles some classic works but rather how well the music is written and recorded as a Perfect Beings album. There is still a variety of influences ranging from the seventies through the eighties and into more recent periods but also a cleverly crafted melange of beautiful music and songs. Soothing piano and acoustic guitar, sweet melodies, frantic instrumentals, the odd atmospheric segment all stitched together in a smooth-flowing, ear-pleasing quilt of patterns and colours.
My personal favourite so far is the nearly nine-minute long “The Love Inside” which is an excellent introduction to the sound and style of Perfect Beings. The angular Yes/Relayer styled prog instrumental part in “Cause and Effect” is also wonderful and “Go” also holds my attention with some beautiful music and melody. “Mar del Fuego” also emphasizes the band’s instrumental prowess with the Spanish hand clapping part reminding me of a track from Don Airey’s solo album “A Light in the Sky”. “The Thrill Seeker” is a serene number with some female vocals adding harmony and an almost traditional Chinese sound to the chorus. The undulating keyboards provide the perfect backdrop for a simple piano and guitar solo. “Volcanic Streams” is rather an exciting piece and perhaps the real dark, brooding and intense part of the album. There are some slower tracks with less excitement and drama but nonetheless enjoyable and integral parts of the album for balance.
As with the debut, this is an album that I can enjoy listening to from front to back and, when it’s over and track one plays again, I feel like listening to it once more.
Based on my listening experience, Perfect Beings are one of the more interesting modern prog bands who have created a sound for themselves without sounding entirely derivative of their influences. They stand on the shoulders of giants and build their own tower. Honestly I’ve heard very little music of 2015 but I expect this late arrival will establish itself very high on the PA Top 100 of the year. I feel it certainly deserves it.