2 out of 5 Stars!
Warning: the genre label of “Progressive Rock” used on several music-related websites when it comes to describing this album is sadly inaccurate. On 2016’s Naked, Outside has lost nearly all of its former Neo-Prog sound from the days of the Freedom album in 2002, and now the band seems to be an Alternative Rock act with only a few Progressive Rock touches, such as during the ending section of “The Plague is Back” and, perhaps, the middle chunk of “Merry Go Round.” But trust me, I’m being generous when seeking out the potential Prog-Rock here. Therefore, here’s a second warning for fans of the group’s Freedom album: Neo-Prog fans expecting to hear anything similar to groups such as Genesis or Marillion or IQ, etc., will be sorely disappointed.
On Naked, the vocals (obviously performed by a different singer from the band’s 2002 release) are borderline “out of key” throughout most of the album and delivered in a lazy style, which, based on my rather limited experience with Alternative Rock, is unfortunately the type of tuneless, lethargic vocal style I frequently associate with this genre (and the reason I don’t gravitate toward this genre either). Moreover, the musicianship is also just “average,” with almost zero in the way of any Neo-Prog guitar or keyboard tones one might expect, with the song arrangements and melodies being, in many respects, ultra simplistic and similar sounding.
I’m not sure what happened within the band that its style would change so drastically from the Freedom album…I’m assuming it has to do with some members leaving the fold and new members (with their individual non-Progressive influences) joining. Be that as it may, the years have obviously not been kind to Outside when it comes to its former Neo-Prog sound, songwriting abilities, or general creativity. The band seems to have “regressed” instead of “progressed.” For an Alternative Rock band, however, the “new” Outside is probably “acceptable,” but sadly, this is not the style of music I can truly appreciate.