One would think that a new CD by Italian prog legends PFM would be reason enough to celebrate and have a great big ol' party. Considering that this band has not released an albums worth of new material in quite a few years, I had my hopes up. Unfortunately, Serendipity does not live up to expectations.
Seeing how fellow countrymen Le Orme have been able to churn out excellent progressive rock these last few years after also being away for over a decade, I'm curious as to why PFM chose not to go the same route. The first four tracks on Serendipity are extremely weak, basic rock songs probably aimed at Italian pop radio. Gone are the lush keyboards and stirring vocals of old, replaced by generic rock guitars and standard arrangements. It's not until track five, "Ore", that things get a bit interesting. Featuring a lovely melody and haunting Mellotron, this song is more of what I was expecting. "La Quiete Che Verra" has some fantastic keyboard and guitar parts played in a melodic yet complex manner, plus great vocals. Easily the best song on the album. The Mellotron again rears its head on the strong "Polvere", proving that some of these songs just need some classic prog instruments to make them worthwhile.
Serendipity is not a total loss, as the second half of the CD actually has a few decent and memorable songs. However, starting off with four clunkers will not hold the attention span of listeners expecting a return to form for this once great Italian progressive rock band. Hopefully the band will take a listen to Le Orme's Elementi and gain some inspiration to record something equally as meaningful.