I like a good surprise as much as anyone, but sometimes bands drop a new album with almost no warning, or at least it seems that way because of the social media algorithms. Retrospective launched their new album Introvert on November 16th without much fanfare, which was a surprise to me because I certainly wasn’t expecting a new record from them this year. Anyways, I dove into the new record and have found it to be one of their best.
Retrospective are part of the Polish wave of progressive rock that has emerged in the last 15-20 years. For me, they are one of the top Polish bands today. Their lineup currently includes Jakub Roszak on vocals, Beata Łagoda on keys and vocals, Maciej Klimek and Dariusz Kaźmierczak on guitars, Łukasz Marszałek on bass, and Robert Kusik on drums.
The band plays a melancholy progressive rock that, while dark, is greyer to my ears than some of their counterparts. Their music doesn’t typically take you through the depths of despair, but it is emotional and poignant nonetheless. One of the keys to their sound is the dual vocalist approach from Jakub and Beata, which results in plenty of great harmonies or sparring situations where they play off one another. I think this is what sets them apart from other Polish bands.
There is something about this album, something that seems different. I know that this is first album on which guitarist Dariusz has had real compositional input. This album has songs that have tighter structures, groovier consistency, and maybe even a good dose of self-editing. Something changed, and while their sound is mostly still the same, Introvert seems like the most refined, interesting, and mature the band has ever been. For my money, this is their best since 2012’s Lost in Perception, and I think it might even be better.
The opener, “Log Out”, is a great example of the tight song structure I mentioned. This 9-minute piece has such gravity and warmth. It builds a fortress of rhythm and chorus, and it does so slowly and methodically; it doesn’t necessarily explode near the end because the progression of the song is so steady that the payoff is found in the realization of how complex and layered the song has become. I love the closing seconds, though, I must admit, and the “I need to log out” ending.
I mentioned the self-editing impression; the album only has 6 tracks, though it is 45 minutes long. It feels like the band focused on stronger individual tracks, on quality over quantity. The first half of the album shows this with “Log Out”, the spacey and reserved “New Perspective”, and rocking “Invincible Man”. The band feels both nostalgic and new.
I think the last half of the album is the better half, even with how good the opener is. “Intoxicated Generation” has deep foreboding in its blood, but I especially love the excellent guitar work and raw feelings it portrays. “Away” is a terrific single; I love how it floats with class and grace, something this band has always been good at doing. The subtle groove grows and evolves, and Beata really brings it on vocals near the end. It’s fantastic. The closer “Self-Control” is just as good, though. I love how warm and harmonious the chorus is, and the instrumentation really stands out here with gorgeous synth, meaty guitars, and rollicking bass and drums.
I love this version of Retrospective. They have refined their style down to a science, but they still inject it with passion and soul. The band has always possessed a surplus of groove, and so that foundation has become the springboard for something even better. This album deserves your attention, even with it releasing close to year’s end.
Find Retrospective online: