Album Review: Lonely Robot - Feelings Are Good
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings
It’s fair to say that John Mitchell is a bit of an unsung icon in the progressive rock world. As well as having a rich musical heritage and history with bands including It Bites, Kino and Frost*, he’s also a renowned songwriter, musician, and producer. His lengthy CV includes working with artists as varied as You Me At Six, Enter Shikari, Alter Bridge, Asia, Don Broco, Funeral For A Friend and McFly. It’s likely that if you enjoy the more nuanced progressive elements of rock, you’ll be aware of the man and his music. Three albums in with his Lonely Robot project, we now arrive at album number four, ‘Feelings Are Good’. Having concluded the affectionally ‘Astronaut Trilogy’ with last year’s ‘Under Stars’, this latest release is something of a departure from what has gone before.
Mitchell uses ‘Feelings Are Good’ to explore more personal themes, drawing deeply on personal experiences and narrative that have been the basis of much of his life. The album opens with the synthetic title track, a 1:16 robotic intro which leads to ‘Into The Lo-Fi’. Full of lush progressive time changes, delicate and deliberately created passages that ebb and flow, this album soars with a passion and power, the combination of sumptuous keyboards, vibrant guitar work and Mitchell’s sweet, clean vocals all working in a delicious and perfect harmony. After the crashing ‘Spiders’, the temperature cools with the deliciously intricate and melodic ‘Crystalline’.
Broad soundscapes flow through the album; the gentle drama of ‘Armour For My Heart’ contrasting with the electro beat of ‘Keeping People as Pets’. Much like Steven Wilson, Mitchell refuses to stick to one pattern or style for long, and whilst the underlying structures are undeniably Mitchell in form, there is ample room for exploration and dynamic expansion. At times, the result is simply breath taking as the blend of signature sounds surge with a timeless bounce. Listen to ‘Army of One’ with its explosive middle section. There may be 13 tracks here, but the vast majority are only around the five minute mark, with only two songs punching through the six minute barrier. This is complex and clever, but it is also accessible and totally unpretentious.
With slightly disturbing yet stunning visuals once more by Paul Tippett / Vitamin P (Black Star Riders, Frost*), Lonely Robot’s latest release continues to tap into a source that seems to remain rich in quality and quantity. With potential live dates tantalisingly booked for December, there may yet be a highlight worth waiting for in this shit storm of a year. One can only close the eyes and cross the fingers. ‘Feelings Are Good’ – as is this album. Incredibly good.