Greg Northrup    3-November-2001 Acqua Fragile

Acqua Fragile is one of those second (or third?) tier Italian bands like Campo di Marte, Corte dei Miracoli and Alusa Fallax that for one reason or another never met with a tremendous amount of contemporary success, but who each have their own set of core devotees among current proggers. Their self-titled debut is a nice album of PFM-styled Itali-prog, although with more of a pop/folk edge and English lyrics. I wouldn't call it essential, but it's certainly enjoyable, and a solid addition to any collection of Italian symphonic.

For the most part, all the songs are structured around the vocal parts in a fairly consistent verse/chorus/verse style, with just enough instrumental complexity to place it firmly in the "prog" genre. The album can be very poppy and catchy at points, yet it certainly retains the charm of 70s Italian prog while not being particularly ambitious. Vocals are in English, which originally put me off, but actually aren't at all bad (aside from the expectedly mediocre lyrics). Sure, I'd prefer them in Italian, but it doesn't drag things down too much.

The album starts out promising, "Morning Comes" being probably the finest track on the album. This is a great vocal-oriented track with a darker tone that recalls, fittingly, Trespass-era Genesis and classic PFM. "Comic Strips" is also nice, with a powerful chorus. The album starts to lag a bit for me in the middle, as tracks like "Song from a Picture" and "Going Out" get bogged down in overly poppy folkiness. "Three Hands Man" picks things up again, exhibiting a more complex side to the band, with great organ and guitar duels and an aggressively catchy vocal part. Acqua Fragile's sound works much better for me when they crank up the "rock" factor, as on the first and last tracks, although I could see how one might find the band's lilting accessibility on the rest refreshing. An album worth checking out for PFM worshippers, although I can't make an all-out recommendation. I'm glad I own it though, even if it is just for a handful of the tracks.

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