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Cardiacs - Heaven Born And Ever Bright CD (album) cover

HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT

Cardiacs

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.92 | 62 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars Tim Smith's CARDIACS had a lineup as volatile as the music performed but the band had a nice run of the so-called classic lineup that lasted from 1984 to 1989 and produced some of the band's wackiest and most revered material beginning with the zolo pronk freakfeast titlted "The Seaside" and lasted up to the band's second full-length album "On Land And In The Sea," but much like the musical cadences of any given CARDIACS tune that jitters around all over the place, so too did this particular phase of the band's career. Change was afoot but Tim Smith was all about that and sallied forth to reinvent the CARDIACS sound after keyboardist William Drake, saxophonist Sarah Smith and drummer Tim Quy jumped ship and left the new version of CARDIACS a mere quartet. Despite this trimmer grouping, Tim Smith rose to the challenge and focused on heavier guitar oriented prog + punk = pronk attacks.

The result of this leaner band lineup was the third album HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT which originally was released in May 1992 but quickly become a rarity due to the Rough Trade label which released it going broke soon after. The album didn't become readily available again until Alphabet Business Concern picked it up and re-released it in 1995. Long deemed by fans as one of the weaker releases between the more highly esteemed "On Land And In The Sea" and "Sing To God," HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT has been cited by Tim Smith himself as one of his favorites and the one he is most proud of and while it's true that this one may take a little more time to get under your skin, the fact is that HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT measures up as an extremely strong CARDIACS release that captures all those manic chord changes, frenzied time signatures, punk infused energy and zolo art rock taken to ultimate extremes.

Described as a mix of hardcore punk in the vein of Dead Kennedys with the prog highbrow sophistication of eclectic bands like Gentle Giant, HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT tamps down the keyboard wizardry and focuses on beefier double guitar attacks courtesy of Tim Smith and newbie Jon Poole along with the bombastic bass grooves of Jim Smith and drumming heft of Dominic Luckman. Given that some of the tracks were recorded before the former band members jumped ship, a few feature Sarah Smith's saxophone playing and there's even a William Drake cameo on "Helen And Heaven." Tim Smith's vocal style seems to have grown even more agitated and unhinged as he traversed much louder soundscapes over the booming banter of the guitar distortion. The songwriting is as sharp as ever with instantly infectious melodious twisted and contorted in some sort of musical Cirque du Soleil but the brilliance of the CARDIACS albums is that they intermingle so many musical elements extremely efficiently.

While just as complex and unpredictable as ever, HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT sounds like the ultimate schizoid sessions come to fruition with bouncy marchcore beats jerked around the musical scale like a school of fish fleeing a hungry predator. In the absence of a talented keyboard taking the lead, the twin guitar nuances become the canvas upon which Tim Smith allows his frenetic vocal style to unleash its idiosyncratic neuroses. The opening "The Alphabet Business Concern (Home of Fadeless Splendour)" starts with what sounds like a music box that releases a psychotic school choir of some sort that quickly becomes self-aware and releases its discontent in a fit of punk infused rage and then commences to force the complexities of Henry Cow into the art form of the Sex Pistols. Eleven tracks of these late 20th century schizoid men crafting some of the most intense CARDIACS tunes ever heard.

While HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT very well be a pubic hair shy of the mastery of the previous and following albums, this album is absolutely no slouch and is nearly as perfect in every way if taken on its own terms. Perhaps more focused on songwriting rather than the flashy solos of William Drake or the future psychedelic accoutrements as heard on "Sing To God," the album doesn't fail to please the hardened CARDIACS fan who has already digested the masterful madness that is unparalleled. Like any other album by this eclectic and eccentric band, this one is literally unclassifiable as the band continues its ability to disregard conventions by fusing everything from ska and punk to hymns and school marching band music. Sure this one took a bit longer to really sink in but in reality, HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT has really elevated itself on my playlist as a worthy equal of the Tim Drake years. After all, it's still ? Smith, the musical mastermind's baby and he didn't slouch off for one little bit and when all is said and done the CARDIACS project never produced even a single bad song in its entire existence. For me, this is another masterpiece.

4.5 but rounded up!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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