As the press release accompanying this album tells us, its title may be a fairly good indicator of the general nature of the record, but it’s not ‘all happy-happy, joy-joy’. That may be true, but a hefty pile of sickly-sweet molasses lies on top of Variations, and this marrs much of its tonal deviation.
This ‘suite’ of nine songs from Canadian progger Cochrane is a bold, if somewhat overt attempt at a progressive epic. Variations charts the course of a day, built around an awakening optimism (Alarm Clock Overture, Makes Me Want To Sing), that then culminates in some transcendental state of nirvana (The Day I Found My Wings).
Musically, the record is a tantalising mish-mash of large bombastic set-pieces, quirky turns and tentative acoustic brushes. Soaring guitars redolent of Alex Lifeson’s strategic execution occasionally roar out of the ether, bringing a new element to the daring twists that Cochrane takes.
It’s the lyrics that turn a brash, refreshingly optimistic score into something more saccharine, spoiling the often magical subtleties of the rest of the record. Surely the phrase ‘Makes Me Want To Sing’ has never been uttered straight-faced without a half-drunk bottle of tequila being involved?