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Spock's Beard - Day for Night CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.28 | 467 ratings

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3 stars Even when looking at the rating for this album, I consider it a return to form. It may not be the quintessential prog album, it is a more relaxed take on music compared to the others by the group and yes, it is filled with pop hooks. But once again the much needed energy and passion is there, some new musical ideas (for the Beards of course) are welcome in the mix, and an air of relaxation spreads itself over what is Day For Night. None of the laboured compositions of The Kindness Of Strangers in sight - just a cakewalk on easy street.

This is of course not implying that this is a sloppy effort in any way, but more like a way for the band to release some of the pressure coming from the high expectations the prog community often have. It's as if Neal Morse suddenly stood up in the studio and said to his bandmates 'let's play with our hearts instead of our brains for a while and see what happens'. The result was a classy record which dips its toes in many different puddles. There's of course prog in it, a surprisingly big amount of radio-friendly, soaring tunes and occasional trips into metal territory (especially on the European bonus track Hurt). Another surprise is that Morse the Second, Alan, takes a step forward with his guitar and gets more room for both experiments and emotional soloing, but also chances to just rock out, cheesy as the expression may be. Nothing new on the keyboard front. Neal and Ryo take turns delivering organ runs, fat Mellotron, synth swooshs and the occasional piano (not as dominant as it use to be) that should please even a stubborn '70s purist. But that part of the band's sound has rarely been the one that receives complaints, and the rest of the boys also performs just as brilliantly as ever.

So the problem is obviously the pop tendencies. Well, songs like Skin and Hurt are nothing special in terms of composition. They follow basic verse-chorus structures and aren't riddled with the intricacy Spock's Beard is capable of if they want to use it. There are occasional proggy outbursts, but these are in all fairness mostly cosmetical. On top of all this, they are catchy. Very catchy and sing-a-long-friendly. That's a fact one cannot put aside and eventually a crucial one when it boils down to if you like or dislike Day For Night.

Very consistent in terms of quality, Day For Night doesn't contain any real killer tracks. There are those who brings the attention level up a notch, though. The title track, Gibberish with it's excellent Gentle Giant-esque fugues and Crack The Big Sky are the most prominent and probably my most played from the album. The triumphant chorus of Skin and the ballad-like Can't Get It Wrong are some of the guilty pleasures to be found here.

If you're really into pop-prog stuff or just feel like listening to some high quality, less demanding music like me there's no point in avoiding Day For Night. But if you're not it just doesn't qualify as either excellent or essential.

A personal 4, but a rare 'objective' 3.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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