I love Polish prog. In the many bands that come from Poland, I find this relatable, melancholy quality that just feels right for me. Retrospective is no different in that regard, but compared to some of the others, they do feel quite unique. I am a huge fan of their last effort, “Lost in Perception”. It was groovy and very different than pretty much anything out there. Their third album, “Re:search”, released recently, and it pleases me to say that it represents a further progression and maturation of the band.
Retrospective plays what I consider to be heavy prog. Their style is not metal, but it is also quite heavy at points, both in atmosphere and in the guitars. Their music is founded on great grooves, deep moods, progressive song structure, and emotional vocals. Male and female vocalists are present, adding a further separation from other bands of their origin and genre.
The band consists of Jakub Roszak on vocals, Beata Łagoda on keys and vocals, Maciej Klimek and Alan Szczepaniak on guitars, Łukasz Marszałek on bass, and Robert Kusik on drums. I believe the instrumentation on this album is far superior to anything I’ve heard from the band so far. Their last album was so groovy and cool with great choruses and lyrics: This album is the same way, but I’ve noticed that the guitars are cleaner and more complex, the bass is excellent (another common trait among Polish bands), and the drums pound out their own signature on the album. Maciej and Alan have some truly heavy riffs in this album, such as on “The Wisest Man on Earth”, but it seems like every track features strong groove and rhythm from Łukasz and Robert.
I don’t remember loving the keys so much on the previous album, either. They are used to wonderful effect here, even if they aren’t actually heard as often as you might expect. The keys range from beautiful piano passages to these high strung synth rollers that come pouring in at the best possible moment, such as in the end of “Rest Another Time”. Due to the keys, the music tends to get higher and higher, with some truly explosive moments that will cause you to stop everything else you are doing just to listen.
The vocals are truly incredible here. Jakub’s accent is rather thick, and he really sounds like no one else in prog. The way he phrases things is brilliant, and I love the slightly shaky, buttery tone to his voice. Beata’s voice is actually bigger than Jakub’s in some ways, and also clearer. This contrast is absolutely stunning sometimes, like on the break in “Right Way” where Jakub brings the tension, but Beata brings the explosive rush. This combination is one of Retrospective’s greatest strengths.
“Re:search” is a fabulous album of shrouded tones, fiery moments, and smooth melodies. My favorite tracks are the opener “Rest Another Time” with its kinetic keys-soaked climax, “Right Way” with its incredibly addictive break, “Standby” for its amazing hook and sweet ending, and then “The End of Their World” because it’s addictive as hell. I also really like “Heaven is Here”, which is a mostly smooth and peaceful track with great lyrics and just this general sense of calm: I especially love the guitar licks at the end. I will admit, though, that I honestly dislike the song “Roller Coaster”. I don’t often point something like this out, but the chorus just doesn’t work with Jakub’s accent all that well, and it gets a bit grating.
Overall, Retrospective has crafted an elegant album that is, for the most part, head and shoulders above anything else they have done. Everything feels elevated, and their musical maturity is obvious to me. When I say “crafted”, I truly mean that, as every song feels lovingly pieced together with a mind for structure and gorgeous melodies. Passion really is the name of the game here, and I think that deserves your ears.