Easy Come, Easy Go
Lead by Dungen guitarist Reine Fiske and singer–songwriter Christoffer Gunrup, Swedish prog-rockers The Amazing turn in an accomplished but flawed effort in Gentle Stream, the band’s second proper LP following their self-titled debut in 2009. Stacked with veteran noodlers and even a few progressive jazz guys, there’s no doubting The Amazing’s impressive technical chops—what with their inspired guitar give-and-take, tasteful sax solos and evocative mid-tempo grooves—but singer Gunrup’s flimsy vocal–lyrical content eventually sways and decays Gentle to the musical riverbed.
On the album’s eponymous opening track, Pink Floyd’s influence is immediately made evident: In full effect are the interwoven guitars, depressed organ lines and cathedral hall bigness, but that’s about where the similarity ends. As the singer’s hushed croons feather off into a cloud of reverb, you’re given the impression what’s expressly stated is no match for the sound of singing. The disconcerting takeaway could just as well be found in humming your way through The Dark Side of the Moon: Though you’ll sometimes find the melodies affecting in and of themselves, you’ll also realize just how important Gilmour’s voice and lyrics were in completing the experience.
The closest Gunrup runs to clicking as a vocalist can be found in “International Hair,” an easy-going troubadour number lilting with longing and far-out musicianship. Again though his lyrics come across oblique and immaterial, somehow they work in the song’s more flighty and romantic context. “Flashlight” takes a page out of Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left, right down to some lovely finger-plucked arpeggios, elfin flute playing and Gunrup even huffing with a bit of Drake-style smokiness. It’s an involving and beautifully performed piece, and in fairness, it’s important to note the music of Gentle Stream is never, ever bad. It just sounds like an excellent backup band making do until they find a frontman as charismatic as their playing.