Friday, December 8, 2023
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Yes – Mirror to the Sky Review

Wheeled out on a disease-infested cart, what remains of the drooping corpse that once was Yes is a firm no for many fans of the once-grand outfit. Mirror to the Sky has beaten its way through the horse, the grease and muck spilling from this horrendous prog-rock plague. Creativity is the burden of the soul but so too is the wallet. What remains of Yes, then? Nobody. No real, original or founding members. Listeners who are keen on Yes, or know of them in distant passing, will likely tell the difference between the finest moments and Mirror to the Sky almost immediately. Like letting artificial intelligence bring back James Dean, Yes replicate the past by heaving blinkered life into the former, functioning outfit.  

But those ill-fitting suits are not long for this world and last less time than that on the ears of their staggered, dwindling listeners. Mirror to the Sky is as meaningless and broad as the tracks within, a status of chancing and derivative moments. Whining guitar work on All Connected is as ironic as it gets, showcasing the disconnect of their flat and aged appeal. Staggered and lengthy tracks provide Yes with a disconnect. Always out of reach is their move to the next stage. Where they, like fellow modern prog-rock failures Jethro Tull, fail to move is in their message and tone. Their listeners are moving on, and so too must the band. Mirror to the Sky is an essential failure which still finds wonder in flying across the stars, as though every billionaire out there is not setting out to prove it is miserable. Music of this style, inevitably, sounds as though it could soundtrack Dreamcast exclusives.  

Luckily for Yes they maintain a steady and acceptable quality for much of Mirror to the Sky. Nothing but hopeless attempts at capturing the success of a band who they share only a name with now. Luminosity is about as good as it gets, more for the placidity of the guitar work within than anything else accomplished. Enjoy those acceptable instrumentals, and eventually the vocals from Jon Davison strike-through, the Sam Ryder of the United States. Prepare for the long haul. An hour of this and little difference between it all means Mirror to the Sky, its title track included, is as sloppy and moderately poor in symphonic structure as it gets. Mirror to the Sky can never quite convince of its style and as such becomes a chore to listen to. Unknown Place? Absolutely unknowable. Yes are hollow now.  

An excuse to drag out guitar solos, dullard lyrics and a snoozefest feature which takes to the stars and loses its atmosphere almost immediately. Should Yes have looked in the mirror as they crafted this latest album, they would surely be ashamed. Yes in this form has too much respect for the longevity of prog-rock and refuses to shake it up. Lengthy tracks with no end in sight, no reasonable merit to them, on and on they go. One Second Is Enough and Magic Potion are cursed, the latter album creations which highlight the problem in bulk. It is not that Yes cannot create interesting instrumentals, it is just they are driven by the same principles of group members who are no longer in the band. Caricatures take up their place, a misfit bunch who play pretend and make the musical equivalent of attempting a Weekend at Bernie’s skit. The lights are on, nobody is home.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet


  1. A month ago, I warned everyone (and I wasn’t the only one). It’s a Steve Howe solo album.Featuring former members of Yes. When Steve leaves us (hopefully not too soon), I predict this carnation will implode.

    • It will be interesting to see what happens when Steve Howe leaves us. If the current line-up has time to solidify, they might continue. A new guitar player might breath new life into this currently Steve-led band. That might be exciting to see. Although Steve probably holds the rights to the name Yes at this stage. So the band’s continuance after his departure would be entirely up to him.

  2. What an ignominious end to my favourite band ever. They need to check out the YT videos of Jon Anderson with Band of Geeks. A real version of Yes. This is utterly insipid and embarrassingly lifeless tosh. Time to call it a day.

  3. Unfortunately, as much as I don’t want to, I must agree with the above comments. I keep saying I will not buy the next Yes album, only to get suckered into buying it with the Roger Dean artwork and Yes logo. When I play the album I think “You’ve been suckered again”. They should have gone out on a high twenty years ago – along side Jethro Tull who still keep going, albeit Ian Anderson and his choice of musicians. Both bands have a stella back catalogue and do not need to dilute it with the tosh they produce now.

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