The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union was the biggest political and social story of the past five years. Each of us has a viewpoint on Brexit, and some of those opinions are as toxic as it gets. Any band choosing to address such a divisive subject takes their metaphorical life into their own hands, but that’s exactly what Galahad have done with their 10th studio release, Seas Of Change.
Just like Brexit itself, Seas… is sprawling and complex. Lasting for a few seconds short of 43 minutes, it’s a single conceptual track, broken down into three song suites. The laid-back, shorter tunes featured on 2017’s Quiet Storms weren’t to everybody’s taste, and it’s to Galahad’s immense credit that they’ve bounced back following what they’ve termed “a pretty difficult couple of years” – a period that saw the exit of co-founding guitarist Roy Keyworth – to present such an ambitious yet ultimately rewarding banquet of neo‑prog.
With its spoken-word demand of: ‘I respectfully request that you be upstanding, for I give you total confusion served up with a smattering of understated incredulity/Topped off with a heady dose of utter bemusement,’ Lords Ladies And Gentlemen throws down the gauntlet, a BBC-type voice quickly announcing: ‘The matter could become critical in a couple of days.’ “Yeah right,” grunts a man in the pub, scowling into his pint.
Galahad’s decision to replace Keyworth from within with former member Lee Abraham, who of course switches from bass to guitar, is a sound one. Abraham handles frets and keys on his excellent solo records, and despite its brevity, a Gilmour-esque intro to Sea Of Uncertainty is among the record’s many highlights.
Another to cover himself in glory is Dean Baker, whose mastery of keys is fundamental to the album’s success. And kudos to co-producer Karl Groom, who at times makes Baker’s contribution sound positively orchestral.
The potshot at former Prime Minister David Cameron, the idiot that opened the whole can of worms and then ran for the hills, is well-deserved – ‘His masterplan having backfired, the PM has so gracefully retired’ – but we’re left no clearer as to whether Galahad are ‘remainers’ or ‘leavers’, though by jiminy the debate has been fun.
Is there a place for politics in progressive rock? Roger Waters believes so, obviously. Is it all a bit too close to home? Well, only if you don’t inhabit the real world. Seas Of Change enhances the notion that, potentially stuffy as it may seem, everyday life is every bit as absorbing as our imaginations.