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LIQUID SCARLET "Killer couple strikes again"

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"For reasons I don't know, Swedish prog band Liquid Scarlet released their 5-track EP Killer Couple Strikes Again at the same time they released II, their second full-length album. Interestingly, the first song which is also the title track is also featured on II and compared to the other four tracks on this disc it is quite different. Perhaps a bit more commercial or straightforward I might say. Beatles type of simple chords, 60's style pop vocals, pretty standard drum and bass playing, and chorus-based lyrics are supported by dreamy synths on the 3-minute opener before things take a serious turn for a more progressive and psychedelic approach on the following tunes.

Though "II" is an excellent disc, I think it's a shame that some Liquid Scarlet fans will miss out on songs like "This Might Be the Last Time" and the Swedish titled "Staden Rammar Vid Fagelns Skri" in the event they decide to pass on this release. I'm not familiar with Liquid Scarlet's debut album, but II is a mix of the band's more 70's prog rock and 60's pop music. This EP, however, leans more on the progressive side of the spectrum, offering intense Mellotron atmospherics, whispered vocals that are deeply moving, and churning guitars. "This Might Be the Last Time" is actually a better song than most of the stuff on II in my opinion. It is dark and very slow-paced, but at the same time incredibly beautiful. The way the vocals are arranged is literally dazzling. Pay close attention to how the back vocals work behind Markus Fagervall's dirge-like singing. And by the end of it, the back vocal harmonies swell and they are repeated endlessly as Fagervall continues to deliver the lyrics in a trance-like state. As for the instrumental piece, it begins with echoic keys and some wordless vocal melodies and then the band delves into the deepest realms of folky psychedelia, employing lovely brush drums, 60's blues guitar, King Crimson bass (something that makes II so powerful), flute, and the song is soon enough surrounded by an ethereal atmospheric sphere. The band opts for a freestyle jam session, leaving multi-instrumentalist Joel Lindberg's bass independent through the whole piece. Over the bass line, violent key strokes are added intermittently while percussive rhythms become more pronounced and lead to a wonderful climax. The song closes exactly the way it started: with the most beautiful wordless vocal melodies you can imagine.

The band's love for the Beatles is ever-present on "Heading for Golgotha" but this time around Crimson's rhythmic tension permeates it continuously and the song is free of the poppy vocal choruses. It even contains a brief minimalistic solo. This 24-minute EP is closed with another winner where angelic Mellotron sounds are combined with jazzy piano, acoustic guitar, and Fagervall's most gentle vocals I've heard. I still question why the band left some of these songs out, as they sound better than a few II tunes. I'd recommend the studio albums first, but if you dig them, you must pick up this EP as well."
Score: 4 stars

"As if the excellence of the Liquid Scarlet "II" album was not enough, the band has simultaneously released a five-track EP that contains an additional 21 minutes of music. Lead track is the joyously upbeat tale of murder and crime that is "Killer Couple Strikes Again", one of the most immediately accessible songs on the album (there is a great video for this song on the band's website, check it out!). First of the additional tracks is "This Might Be The Last Time". This song has a fantastic melody and is beautifully sung by Markus Fagervall. The double bass contrasts with the synth washes that permeate the background. The bass vocals reciting, almost chanting, the title of the song is, at first, rather unnerving but certainly adds gravitas to a very solid and enjoyable song. Instrumental "Staden Rämnar Vid Fågelns Skri" is quiet a mixture: the opening female vocals and flute are fairly folky but then a very funky bass riff takes over with the guitar adding all sorts of textures. Reminds me somewhat of Funkadelic's Maggot Brain (bet that's a first for a prog review! But seriously check out that song and album, fantastic!). To ensure symmetry, the vocals and flute return to round off the song.

"Heading For Golgata" is a song that probably wouldn't have sat too well on "II" although I can't quite put my finger on why. Yes, the main CD is a strong mixture of styles but this seems a bit too out of the box. Quite a simple song based on electric piano it is by no means a bad song, just not as striking as the other material. Finally we have "All That Is Grey" which rounds the EP off in style. A rousing chorus mixed with weird sound effects all cemented down by a solid bass line. Crushing stuff!

This EP is by no means just a collection of outtakes or filler but an essential companion to the album.
If you buy the album, and you should, then you need this EP as well."
Conclusion: 8 out of 10

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