Now slimmed down to three from what was many, Glasgow’s Hercules Mandarin depart from their previous musical exuberance in search of something altogether more concise and, dare I say it, fashionable with their album “Enjoy The Flight”.
The lyrical complexity that is the trademark of front man Chris Rodger still surfaces at regular intervals throughout the album but it is clear that the band are no longer following the yellow brick road to AOR nirvana. Songs like “Crazy Eyes” or “Oh Brother” seem to reflect an affection - not exactly uncommon these days - for seventies blues rock that seems somewhat crude compared to the eloquence so evident in a song like “The Elephant’s Back”. I suppose you could say that contrast is a good thing but, in the context of this album, the choice of songs fails to gel into a cohesive whole.
It is fair to say that the cruder songs would fare better in a live environment but it is also true that those songs are the ones that lack the individuality that was the trademark of the Hercules Mandarin of the past. So, while “Enjoy The Flight” shows promise, it suffers from too many musical compromises to satisfy their existing fan base or, indeed, to entice new believers.