When Asia released Aqua in 1992, it was a surprise return for a band who’s last studio album had been released seven years prior. Instead of being a one-off attempt to recapture glory days, however, the album actually signaled a more permanent band than anyone would have guessed.
“What could easily have been an isolated one-shot experience” (Garcia) turned into a long-term return. The “new Asia” didn’t have the pedigree of the original band – only keyboardist Geoff Downes remains on 1994’s Aria, with the band’s remaining original lineup of rock superstars Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, and John Wetton replaced by far less than household names. Still, the changes weren’t entirely jarring. Vocalist John Payne had already assumed vocal duties on Aqua and Al Pitrelli had already become the primary guitarist on that same album, with Steve Howe serving only in a guest capacity.
“The album does start off with a few weaknesses, but as the music flows and you move deeper into the tracks, melodies become richer and more intricate, and the lyrics more interesting. The fourth track, Summer, is a great song; Sad Situation is a marvel; and Don’t Cut the Wire a work of art” (Garcia).There’s also “the romantic Feels Like Love” (Garcia) and “the symphonic Aria, which makes for a great finale” (Garcia).