With the release of their twenty-third studio album, Mirror to The Sky, it might finally be time to say no to Yes. This lacklustre offering is plagued by a combination of uninspired songwriting, dull performances, and an overall sense that Yes have overstayed their welcome. Even for those who simply can’t get enough, this should be a disheartening affair, but some will still rejoice that this is a better release than their last effort, The Quest (2021).
A look at the current formation of Yes draws to mind the parable of the Ship of Theseus. The group has gone through so many changes of personnel, that at this point the band is really unrecognisable. Save for guitarist Steve Howe, none of the original members are present here, and under Howe’s direction it’s as if the band is trying to replicate Yes’ past success without truly understanding what made them exceptional.
The album opens with “Cut from the Stars” a number which harkens back to the glory days of old, bringing to mind albums like Fragile (1971) and The Yes Album (1969), but sounds much like it was produced by ChatGPT. In fact all the nine songs here feel like that – derivative and formulaic progressive rock with nothing whatsoever progressive about it. It’s seem as if Howe can’t be entirely to blame as current bassist Billy Sherwood and vocalist Jon Davison frequently take writing credits on Mirror to the Sky. While Davison does a commendable job replacing vocalist Jon Anderson, the resemblance of his voice to Anderson’s only adds to the feeling that this band is a husk of what it used to be.
The production further exacerbates the album’s shortcomings. Recorded during the Pandemic the sessions were recorded remotely and it suffers for it. The production feels as flat and completely uninspired as the songwriting and the once-vibrant and adventurous instrumentation feels stagnant. Most disappointing of all is the lack of energy and enthusiasm that pervades each cut, as though the band themselves don’t have much conviction in what they are playing. Listen to “Magic Potion” and you will quickly see what I mean. Still, in spite of everything, maintains an acceptable quality, and while that ‘acceptable’ may be good for some, Yes are only tarnishing their name with each new release.