Cue – Five Steps to Happiness

Cue is a Dutch band, who I might characterize more as “art-rock” than “prog”. That’s just because, at least for their second album, Five Steps to Happiness, the emphasis is on the lyrics and story of this concept/rock opera album more than trying to impress you with their instrumental prowess. There’s some nice playing on here nonetheless, in a ’70’s “classic rock” mold, but the story is what this album is about.

It’s the tale of an emo goth kid (he dresses in Victorian attire …) who’s a self-styled intellectual (… while studying to be a medieval historian), and is dark and depressed all the time. Then one day, he finds a “ticket” with the inscription “Five Steps to Happiness” on it. There are cryptic instructions on the ticket, but as he strolls through the cemetery he hangs out in, he decides it can’t be for him, since he’s “always so glum”. As we’re guided through the double CD, he goes on a modified “hero’s journey” to discover what life is about by following the instructions on the ticket, to find the mystical land of Borkulo, and find true love along the way.

Trite? Naive? Overworked? OK, it’s all of the above. But it’s so charmingly done, it’s hard to not be carried away by the youthful enthusiasm (and these band members all look VERY young) and optimism of these folks. The inclusion of both male and female vocals really helps this to be more of an opera than just a narrative, and the story resonates with things we hate about our own lives (“He’s busy … no time to think … never any time … there’s always stuff to do …”).

So, for those who would like to try out a feelgood story and don’t need to be too serious about their “prog”, this album is very good theatrical art-rock. Clearly the output of inspired and talented amateurs (or at least young, starry-eyed newbies to the cutthroat world of music) rather than “pros”, but that just adds to the charm. I actually like it that the CD cover of the promo I got was clearly created on someone’s color printer and the CD’s were hand-labelled CDR’s. If you order the album from them, you’ll get 2 CDR’s with the CUE logo “lightscribed” on the top, not a pro-pressed CD. But for $US 12.50 for a 2CD release (that includes postage), a made-on-demand CDR is a good deal.

But I did get a nicely-printed ticket to Borkulo with the Five Steps … now, which way should I go to find that forgotten Aunt?

As a final note, the band describes their debut album as “more progressive/fusion oriented”, and it is still available as an on-demand lightscribed CDR. — Fred Trafton

Click here for Cue‘s web site
Click here for Cue‘s MySpace page
Click here to email Cue about ordering Five Steps to Happiness or their debut album


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