The two and a half decade long musical journey of The Legendary Pink Dots has seen them traverse the psycho-goth-prog-rock landscape from one end to the other. Singer Edward Ka-Spel and songwriting partner/keyboardist Phil Knight have crossed just about every single boundary that divides the various pertinent sub-genres that are defined by terms like electronic, progressive, post-new wave, etc. Quite often there are straightforward pop tunes lurking underneath the dense layers of sound that seem to float in and out of their music, but their motif has always been to color the mise-en-scene with many hues of gray and highlights of muted blue.
This time out they expand the playlist further with another array of amorphous sounds and stylings that could only come from them. If only some newer bands could take a lesson from the imaginative use of the musical sounds in the Dots music the world would be a slightly better place. A fair amount of the “goth” tendencies that always seem to hover around them are felt here.
“Leap of Faith” teases some interesting bits, but then, unfortunately, settles into a somewhat blah and tepid bath. “Radiation Day” is good and trippy, throwing some light on their other side. “No Star Too Far,” at over nine minutes long, builds to a synthetic climax about six minutes in, but then it just peters out for the final three minutes, kind of like a firework that flashes too soon and fizzles into ash. “Ascension” is thirteen minutes long and it has some enjoyability, but it could be made all the more impactful by cutting it in half and exploding the concept into a noisy uplift at the end.
There are some great vocal parts sprinkled throughout and there are unexpected moments that reel you back in when your attention wanes, but the album, as a whole, is sluggish and a tad too long. After every last note is finally played things end up feeling kind of tired. A co-producer with a good editor inside might have honed the best parts into something more precise and focused. That would raise the bar a little for a band that might need a poke or two in the rib cage now and then.