Review – Kayak – Out Of This World – by John Wenlock-Smith

Growing up , as I did in the fair city of Birmingham, I spent much of my teenage years trawling the city’s many record shops including my favourite, the now long gone, Reddington’s Rare Records, which was a virtual treasure trove of vinyl spread across different shops. The one that appealed to me was the one that sold rock music and I would happily spend hours of a Saturday morning looking through the racks in search of something new and interesting to listen to. Many of those albums are probably like gold dust now and most likely worth a fortune too. One band that I came across frequently was Kayak, who’s then album ‘Royal Bed Bouncer’ from 1975 frequently caught my eye but never enough to actually buy a copy for myself. This was probably a major mistake that I made as getting it on CD now will cost a fair amount.

That was many years ago and now Kayak are just preparing to release their 19th album, ‘Out of This World’ a 15 Track, seventy plus minute, musical voyage into their world of progressive pomp rock that will appeal to many special folks who like pomp rock along the lines of Trillion, Le Roux, Starcastle or even Kansas. This is the area in which Kayak really operate, as this album can clearly testify.

The album has a mixture of shorter songs alongside three longer pieces and also includes one track that is epic in length. The music puts me in mind of Toto at times, such is their sound. The delicate undertones, great vocalist, strong keyboards and guitar solos, put me in mind of Toto’s ‘Hydra’ and ‘Turn Back’ albums especially.

Let us have a listen and see what we can say about this album.

The album opens in style with the first of the longer tracks, Out Of This World, which is a good and strong opener, in that it sets you up for all that is to follow. It starts with some lovely piano ruins and a good guitar riff, all very fluidly played and symphonic sounding with a chugging bass line driving the song along. This is fine symphonic rock with great melodies and performance from all concerned. The vocalist is clear and in good voice, in fact the whole band are on excellent form on this track, especially the guitarist who really rips it up on this song, making a good impression. His playing is melodic and his guitar lines soar in tandem with the keyboards and synthesizers.     

The song is very catchy with some fabulous sections and great guitar too, this is followed by Waiting, which is a shorter song but one that is enlivened by a very fluid guitar line and an almost funky or chunky guitar riff. The track is about desire and waiting for someone to decide. It is very memorable indeed with a fine chorus, stirring stuff indeed. We then move onto the second long track, Under A Scar, which opens with delicate piano lines and some lush keyboard orchestrations. It is all very symphonic sounding before the song moves into a strong instrumental section with keyboards and guitar firing on all cylinders, all very impressive.

Kaja is another shorter song but one that has great guitar on its opening moments. This one is an instrumental and acts as a showcase for the guitar artistry of Marcel Signor who rises to the task fabulously. Next we have the shorter track Mystery which has some fabulous piano playing amongst the symphonic keyboard textures and muscular guitar playing with a strong rhythm section who support and drive the song forwards.

Critical Mass is another longer track which opens mysteriously, like the music from a film like Halloween or similar, before vocals are introduced and more keyboard orchestrations. This is all highly effective indeed, I am really enjoying my initial introduction to Kayak as it is very impressive stuff musically, it is spot on and bodes well for a successful album. This is a very well-crafted record with fabulous songs and performances and the sound is very pleasing to the ear. This is so good that I can see this being on peoples best of lists later this year, there has already been a lot of fabulous music released this year, must be all that time on folks’ hands or something?

As The Crow Flies is next and this has a looping recurring synth line that runs through it. The song is short and possibly one of the weaker songs on the album but it is all over fairly quickly and is followed by The Way She Said Goodbye which is a song about a love that is over and the feelings that remain in the wake of her leaving. This song is handled with much dignity and, whilst sad, is never maudlin and there is some fabulous fretless bass playing on the track.

The energetic Traitors Gate, once again, recalls the power of Toto with its neat interplay of synthesizers and guitar and its muscular power. This track also has a great guitar solo where Marcel gets a few bars to let rip once more making it possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album. Distance To Your Heart follows and sounds like rime ELO of all people but with Kayak’s own take on it and that fabulous vocalist shining once again. It’s not a stand out track and leads into Red Rag To A Bull which is a fine, rockier, track with some excellent synth at the start and some moody orchestrations that build the song. There’s slight Spanish flamenco type sounds and touches with some subtle Spanish guitar flourishes in the mix and a great solo from Marcel once again. This one is a subtle grower of a track that opens out into a majestic song, all impressive indeed.

One By One is a far softer and melancholic type of song, quite maudlin and emotionally moving with its fabulous chorus. There is also a quite dramatic key change that lifts the song from into something much brighter and better. This track is subtle and moving and all the better for it. The drum beat moves it into a bit of an epic singalong type number that would not be out of place an Abba album somehow, magnificent!

The epic of the album, A Writer’s Tale, starts with keyboards and an almost Kashmir type pace to it. The song gives room for some excellent guitar and keyboard playing and lots of space for the music to stretch and grow in intensity and emotional resonance. The piece is a real epic in scope, style, and sound and is utterly fantastic. Next track Cary has more than a whiff of a fisherman’s song or a sailors sea shanty about it . There’s certainly a merry and jolly touch to it making the track almost a singalong number. Unusual and no less impressive, it even manages a guitar solo in its brief tenure, a surprisingly good song.

Album closer Ship Of Theseus has more of that touch of epic Pomp Rock that we have come to enjoy. This song is about a ship that travelled to Theseus in ancient days and recounts its tale of adventure and its exploits. This mini epic ends things in fine symphonic style.

What an album this is, ‘Out Of This World’ really is brim-full of strong songs and fabulous performances and I feel that it has much to offer the listener. I intend to go back into Kayak’s history and listen to some more of their music and discover it for myself because, on the basis of this album, there appears to be much to enjoy and I would highly commend this fabulous album to all.

Released 7th May, 2021

Order from this link:

Out Of This World (lnk.to)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.