This might be another case of my rating not truly reflecting my complete thoughts about an album. Or maybe it is accurate. I’m still not sure. Bjørn Riis is back with another solo work, this one called Everything to Everyone. It is a solid release, certainly. It arrives this Friday, April 8th.
Bjørn is the guitarist for prog rock group Airbag. Sometimes I feel like his solo works are simply a way of expressing himself when the band isn’t moving quickly enough for him. Anyways, the lineup on this record includes (according to progarchives.com): Bjørn Riis on vocals, guitars, bass, and keyboards; Henrik Bergan Fossum on drums; Kristian Hultgren on bass; Simen Valldal Johannessen on piano; and Mimmi Tamba on vocals.
The reason I mentioned Bjørn’s solo works in that manner is because, for all intents and purposes, the style of his solo records is exactly that of Airbag. Normally when an artist veers off to do his or her own thing, this is because they want to explore new sounds. This is not the case with Bjørn. The music here is still Floydian prog rock with a pensive atmosphere, shy emotions, and great guitar work. All of his solo albums sound like this, and so do all of Airbag’s albums.
And perhaps that is why I’m being a downer about this record to some degree. I like Airbag. I’ve never loved their records that much, aside from 2016’s Disconnected (which is truly fantastic). To see their style elongated and perpetuated in Bjørn’s solo works isn’t exactly thrilling. For some, it might be. For me, it is something to listen to a few times, and then forget about for a while. There’s just nothing here that is truly engaging or interesting. You’ve heard this album before. You’ve heard all of Bjørn’s solo albums before. I mean, I loved his first solo work, 2014’s Lullabies in a Car Crash, but every single album since has just been a riff off of that masterpiece.
I realized something while listening to Everything to Everyone. Obviously, one major difference between Airbag and Bjørn’s solo albums is that Bjørn is singing. He has a good voice, certainly, but the way he delivers his lines and the plodding nature of the music both remind me of Tim Bowness. If anything is different from Airbag, it’s that Bjørn slows the music even more to emulate Tim, not to mention the quaveringly quaint emotions that are involved there, too. It’s like Tim’s myriad solo works with more guitar, and that’s it.
I feel like I’m picking on Bjørn, and that’s not entirely fair. All of his albums are solid pieces. I enjoy them for what they are, and this album is no different. Some of the songs here have moments that I like, especially the closing minutes of the title track and the beautiful aura of “Every Second Every Hour”. The instrumental and ambient track “Descending” is probably the most interesting track overall with its climactic post-rock style. Other than that, I can describe every song on this album using the same exact adjectives: sleepy, casual, and labored, but with moments of excellent guitar work. I wouldn’t say “dull” or “boring”, mostly because I hate those words, but I feel like many music fans definitely would use those terms.
So, here’s the long and short of it. If you like Bjørn’s other releases, you will probably like this one, too. If you didn’t, you definitely won’t find something here to change your mind. I found myself having trouble staying awake, even at work, while listening to this. It’s objectively beautiful to some extent, but it isn’t anything new or original. At this point, Bjørn is basically plagiarizing himself, which he has every right to do, and which is way better music than I could ever write. I’m sure of that. But I’m here to give my opinion, and there it is.
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