Review YES ‘The Quest’

UK sound architects Yes are one of the pioneers of progressive rock. Founded in 1968, the band can look back on an eventful history, to which even after more than five decades new chapters are still being added. In this case it is ‘The Quest’.

Yes, these days are Steve Howe (guitars, vocals), Alan White (drums, backing vocals), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Jon Davison (lead vocals, acoustic guitar) and Billy Sherwood (bass guitar, vocals), all unquestionable experts in their field. In this context it should also be mentioned that ‘The Quest’ is the first album without Chris Squire, who passed away in 2015. Billy Sherwood takes over and does a good job which is also due to the fact that Squire was one of Sherwood’s mentors.

The first ideas for ‘The Quest’ came about in 2019, and the album takes as its theme the big questions of life and the realization that you have a lot in your own hands. The artwork mirrors the theme in a good way as well. On the one hand, it is bright and colorful, like many Yes album covers. At the same time there is something unknown and opaque underneath it all, the questions of life in fact.

Photo Credit: Gottlieb Bros

Making good use of the extra time and making use of internet and file sharing, even the emerging pandemic could not stop the work on ‘The Quest’. Certainly the process was different, due to lockdowns among other things. Nevertheless, the album sounds like from one piece. Yes show once again why they belong to the spearhead of progressive rock.

How could it be other than that the album opens with a keyboard fanfare. ‘The Ice Bridge’ is the song that features such an iconic beginning, a snappy start that addresses a serious issue with its musical genius – climate change.Even though Yes don’t write melancholic songs, ‘The Ice Bridge’ has a more warning and oppressive undertone which suits the theme.

‘The Quest’ is split over two CDs and what starts with ‘The Ice Bridge’ ends on CD 1 with a song called ‘A Living Island’. Davison, who was on lockdown in Barbados, worked with Downes on this song. Barbados, with all its corals, is this living island and the lyric line ‘Is it a paradise or is it a prison’ shows the full spectrum of thought in the pandemic. During the song, the perspective swings from Barbados to the world in general, to which the term ‘living island’ can also be applied. Moreover, the song has a lightness to it, a positive swing that shows that answers to life’s questions can indeed be positive ones.

‘The Quest’ is a typical Yes album that builds on great melodies and musical savvy, both key elements in painting soundscapes that are a treat for ears and mind. Lean back, press ‘Start’ and enjoy what Yes offer on this excellent longplayer.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Tracklist:

CD1:

  1. The Ice Bridge
  2. Dare To Know
  3. Minus The Man
  4. Leave Well Alone
  5. The Western Edge
  6. Future Memories
  7. Music To My Ears
  8. A Living Island

CD2:

  1. Sister Sleeping Soul
  2. Mystery Tour
  3. Damaged World

Label: Inside Out Music

Genre: Progressive Rock

Release Date EU: October 1st, 2021

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