Franck Carducci 2019
From the underworld of Wonderland, art-rock’s Polichinelle sets out on his quest for the ultimate truth.
When, one year prior to this album’s release, Franck Carducci issued the video for “Slave To Rock ‘N’ Roll” – an unlikely, for him, slice of glam rock – one could assume the Lyon dweller quit his prog ways and switched to something robust, even though artsiness has always been not only his forte but also a magnet for many fans who flock to his shows and crowdfund his records. Truth is, Franck doesn’t simply play prog; instead, Carducci plays in prog. His palette may look like paisley, yet there’s much more to it – and “The Answer” should reveal more surprises than his Mad Hatter headgear hinted at.
Of course, the aforementioned infectious single smash is there, too, waiting to be unleashed on the unsuspecting listener, once opener – the album’s title track, “(Love Is) The Answer” – leaves the shadow of its Todd near-namesake to enter an arid, and arresting, acoustic landscape and evoke the light, organ-steamrolled spirit of tribal unity. Still, when a 12-string strum descends on “Superstar” – a nicely detailed tale of Arion, Carducci’s alter ego – the two worlds, real and imaginary, start to collide to create a lifelike, yet fantasy-infested, prog vista, so a piano ripple and heavy riffs fueling “The After Effect” – a lesser epic, with Franck’s finest vocal performance on the album – are quite welcome in terms of contrast. Unfortunately, the piece’s flow feels a tad repetitive, unlike the effervescent, effusive blues in the heart of “Asylum” which offers much more variety, tempos- and characters-wise, with funk and rock ‘n’ roll (and Derek Sherinian) rearing their rhythm-driven heads here and there.
Not as insistent but rather moving is the soul-searching of “The Game Of Life” – a slightly didactic, sax-spiced ballad, calling Carducci’s confidante to never grow into an adult – and relexiveness suits the record well. Yet it’s difficult to understand, why Franck considered the last couple of cuts as bonuses, because “Beautiful Night” combines our daily routine and magic as perfectly as the preceding numbers do. Perhaps, it’s a part of the artist’s relentless quest where “The Answer” – a step up from "Torn Apart" – is one of the best stations.