There’s no need for me to mince words here. Pinup Guru is musical nirvana. Tomas Bodin is of course, the keyboard player for The Flower Kings. Usually when a member of an established and successful band branches out, the results are disappointing and often thrown into the cut out bins. Remember Keith Moon’s solo album? How about Steve Howe’s first effort or even (I blush!) Peter Criss’ (from Kiss) solo debut from 1978? But Tomas Bodin not only shows that solo albums can stand on their own as artistic statements, he also proves that they can equal the very best of a band’s creative output!
At 71 minutes, Pinup Guru is a fairly long CD, but I never find myself looking at the clock. There’s never a moment where I don’t think that Bodin isn’t going somewhere. He very skillfully weaves classical rock, hard rock, folk, electronica, ska and even film soundtrack music throughout the length and breadth of the CD-in some cases, even within the very same song! Bodin is helped by two of his Flower King buddies, Zoltan Csorsz on drums and Jonas Reingold on bass.
From the opening of the very Pictures of an Exhibition-ish (ELP’s version that is) "Sodium Regale" to the bombast of the introductory fanfare of the 13 minute "What’s Going On", one would think that they were in for an Emerson, Lake and Palmer clone band. And that person would be wrong, for "What’s Going On" also ventures into the trip hop genre and may have you thinking that someone snuck a Massive Attack CD into your player. But these shifts in style are so smooth throughout the CD as to be unnoticeable. "Me and Liz" starts out in similar symphonic rock territory as "What’s Going On" but also mutates quite effortlessly into several different musical themes. On the 8 minute "Harlem Heat", Bodin marries a dance beat over a Genesis type synthesizer lead. This is great stuff! Or how about "New in the ‘Hood", which features an Eastern European gypsy folk theme over an almost Zappa-ish rhythm section?! Still not convinced? Try the 5 minute "Blood", which could be the soundtrack to the next John Carpenter or Dario Argento film. It all ends magnificently with "The Last Eagle" and "The Final Swig" and Chris Squire admirers will be impressed with Reingold’s bass solo on the final track.
Do I appear to be drooling? I am. This is wonderful stuff, the very reasons why I treasure progressive rock. As flashy as Bodin can be, he never lets his chops get in the way of a great melody. This is not a disc for only Flower Kings aficionados. I would recommend this one for anybody with an ear for adventure. Do not let this one slip through the cracks in the wake of the latest Flower Kings CD! Easily one of the year’s best!!