Carptree - Superhero

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Fosfor Creations
Catalog Number: CWNF2
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:13:00

Ever find an album that you really wanted to love, but just couldn't stand? Well, for me that album is Carptree's Superhero. An infuriating mish-mash of stylistic plagiarism and soaring keyboards, Superhero furthers the cause of neo-progressive copy bands for whom Fish and Hogarth are the Holy Duality and And Then There Were Three is the Holy Grail.

Carptree is the Swedish duo of Niclas Flinck (vocals) and Carl Westholm (keyboards), and Superhero is their second album. The duo dominates proceedings while given ample support by a group of supporting musicians, referred to as the 'No Future Orchestra'. All songs were composed by Flinck and Westholm, with Westholm having handled all aspects of recording and production. The style is unmistakably neo-progressive, indelibly stamped with the sounds of post-Gabriel/Hackett Genesis and "old" (Fish-era) and "new" (Hogarth-era) Marillion, so much so that it seems that Carptree must not listen to anything else.

Now, just like any other progressive style, I'm okay with neo-prog ? unless it's as derivative as Superhero; that's where I have to draw the line. The immediate and biggest problem with Superhero is the singing and lyrics of Niclas Flinck, who apparently worships ? and mimics ? both Fish and Steve Hogarth, almost to the point of obsession. Superhero features eleven tracks and Flinck manages to neatly divide his performances; on the first eight, Flinck sounds exactly like early Fish, and on the last three he's a ringer for present-day Hogarth (with dashes of Eaun Lowson thrown in here and there). Flinck's writing also bears the stylistic imprint of Fish, reminding especially of his work on Misplaced Childhood: "Walking past Kew Gardens ? you took us out on the mazes there ? oh the irony of mazes then?" ("Host Vs. Graft"). Talk about déjà vu?. All that said, Flinck does score points for singing his heart out ? even when he sounds just like Fish, Flinck sings every word like he means it.

Of course, Carl Westholm shares responsibility for Superhero with Flinck, and his Banksian keyboards and arrangements are dead ringers for latter day Genesis. Westholm includes guitars in his structures, but uses them primarily for melodic support; no hint of Hackett or Rothery are anywhere to be found. The keyboard charts are also (more than a bit) reminiscent of Genesis; at least three of the songs sound as if they were lifted right off of And Then There Were Three, especially "Host Vs. Graft", which is oddly similar to "Burning Rope." But, like Flinck, Westholm has to be given his due; his songs may be derivative, but his playing is marvelous and could easily come to rival the skills of his mentors and peers.

But, as much as Flinck's sincerity and Westholm's occasionally breathtaking keyboards make me want to love Superhero, the "ripped off" character of the songs annoys the sh*t out of me. No doubt, Carptree can and will become an original and entertaining neo-prog unit, but for now they've got work to do. Pass on Superhero unless you absolutely believe that neo-prog can do no wrong, no matter who's playing it or what it sounds like.

Superhero (6:34) / Father's House (6:29) / Calm Sea Of Their Pupils (5:42) / There Like Another (4:04) / Host Vs. Graft (5:26) / Watching The Clock (4:30) / Into The Never To Speak Of (6:41) / Flesh (5:30) / Malfunction (6:20) / Lie Down (4:13) / Sleep (5:44)

Niclas Flinck - lead vocals
Carl Westholm - keyboards
"No Future Orchestra":

Ulf Edelonn - guitars, bass
Jejo Percovic - drums
Oivin Tronstad - backing vocals
Stefan Fanden - bass
Kjell Bjarnhage - snare drum
Jan Hellman - drums
Franziska Edvinsson - narration (9)

Carptree (2001)
Superhero (2003)
Man Made Machine (2005)
Insekt (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: June 23rd 2004
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website:
Hits: 1497
Language: english


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