Voyager – Colours in the Sun Review

A new Voyager album is always an unknown quantity. I’ve dearly loved some of the Australian prog-meisters material, and felt ambivalent about some of it as well. I raved about 2011s The Meaning of I, but struggled to love parts of followup V. They won me over again on 2017s Ghost Mile, so naturally I hoped the good times would keep rolling with their new opus Colours in the Sun. And why shouldn’t they keep rolling? The band’s proven themselves to be highly talented, wildly creative and charismatic song writers. All these positives are evident here on Colours, but alas, it seems we’re back on rocky ground anyway. I guess we just have a love/like relationship.

Much like with V, this is a Dickinsonian tale of two album halves, with the first half being high-spirited, infectious and nearly impossible to resist. Opener and lead single “Colours” isn’t a particularly heavy tune, but goddamn if it isn’t insanely addicting, with more pop writing acumen that most radio artists could ever hope for. In some ways it’s the prototypical Voyager song – deceptively simple in construction, powered by Daniel Estrin’s excellent vocals and larger-than-life personality. It’s the details the band adds that make it unique – djent riffing positioned against uber poppy vocal harmonies, and everything rounded out with synths that sound like the soundtrack to a bad 1980s sci-fi flick. It’s at once a madcap mess and a total success you’ll have stuck in your head like a railroad spike. That’s the Voyager magic. The band keeps the mana flowing for a while too, with followup cuts “Severomance” and “Brightstar” bubbling over with light-hearted prog-pop with veins of metalcore and heavy djent riffing keeping things tenuously anchored to the metalverse. The album highlight to my ears is “Saccharine Dream,” which sounds like it escaped from The Meaning of I and showcases the band’s ability to craft fun, highly engaging songs that effortlessly flit through pop, prog and metal. Slappy happy bass-work joins Estrin’s vocal tour de force along with riffs that shift from light to heavy on a dime, and the listener is dragged along with a big smile on their face.

Sadly, the run of great songs ends all too soon and the album’s back-half is a mixed bag of okay and decent cuts that pale in comparison to the genius heard on the front-half. Estrin is joined by Einar Solberg of Leprous on “Entropy” for what should be a mighty duet of young, hungry prog vocalists, but the song itself falls a bit flat and Einar’s vocals seem more jarring than interesting. Songs like “Reconnected” and “Runaway” are decent if a bit dull, and nowhere near as satisfying and adventurous as the earlier output. The fact the album winds out with several songs that don’t do a lot for me is especially disheartening after so strong a start.

At a tight 42:35, the album certainly isn’t overlong, though it might have fared better as an EP considering the relative disparity between the first and second half. After repeat spins it dawned on me just how much Voyager’s material depends on Daniel Estrin’s innate vocal charisma. Some of the songs feel like little more than his vocals and some stripped down riffing, and without his large presence this type of writing simply would not work. Another issue this time out is how the “heavy” sections, be they metalcore or djent, are socked into songs that really have no need for them. Whether this is done out of a true sense of progressive composing or the need to ensure the requisite allotment of metal elements I don’t know, but they feel more superfluous this time out. The band is very talented and they’ve carved out a unique sound for themselves. It just feels like some of the writing here is pieced together in ways that flow less cohesively than in the past.

Colours in the Sun is one half very good and one half serviceable. It lacks the proggy depth and innovation of Ghost Mile but it shows Voyager as able as ever in writing slick, poppy ditties that stick like glue. I wish it was more consistent, but some relationships are destined to have ups and downs. I’ll still be there for them next time, expecting great things to happen.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: November 1st, 2019

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