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Beardfish - Sleeping in Traffic - Part One CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.07 | 541 ratings

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4 stars There are a lot of bands in the modern progressive rock world that carry the torch that bands like Yes or Gentle Giant carried several years ago. These bands take that torch and throw it into the goblet of the modern age, celebrating the style from yesteryear while also shaping it into their own limelight that embodies what Prog rock is all about, moving forward while celebrating what came before. Bands like The Flower Kings and Big Big Train are some of my favorites of this style of Prog with their clear appreciation of the genre and their refreshing sound that makes them so crisp and enjoyable. However one band seems to take these ideas and runs with them, yet I never really gotten fully into their work until now.

Beardfish was a Swedish band formed in the early 2000s. Unlike the bands I talked about before, they have a more focus on less of a symphonic type sound and more a focus on experimentation with sound, giving them a more interesting feel all around. Despite this I never really got an attachment to them up until this point, but yet I was always intrigued by their sound and their abilities, and I sorta wanted to hear them again after a few months, so I decided to start fresh with this album that I have heard was really good, and after hearing it, all the love for it makes all the more sense.

From what I have heard, this is a concept album about someone's day throughout 24 hours, with this first part being about the day. This album also seems to deal with depression with the lyrics, we'll get to those in a little bit when discussing the songs.

The album starts with a prelude called ?On The Verge Of Sanity. It's a small tune being played on the accordion, and I say it definitely segways into this album pretty well. While I particularly not fond of these small doses of music, having the album start with this tune ain't that bad, in fact it hooked me in more than anything.

But as the song ends the sun rises with Sunrise. The song starts up with this glorious sound of soulful organs, guitars, and drums. It really punches you with amazing sounds. It's an amazing hook to say the least. As it fades, we get a more acoustic part that builds more up to stronger progressions and stronger changes that hits it right on the nail. This is also where the lyrics start and while it's short and brief, it gives highlight to the main character of this album, a depressed man who seems to be in a failed relationship and who is so down in life that the sun is less good and more bad. It gives the album a gloomy feeling despite its more upbeat sorta sound.

The next song is Afternoon Conversation. It's a lot shorter and more minimal with instrumentation, with only a guitar and small beats of the drums. I honestly really like this break of momentum after the amazing spectral of sound, now sitting back a bit in favor of a more vocal song that gives more away with the story and the really great song writing. This seems like a flashback to when the man and his girlfriend were still in a good relationship, however they took things a bit too fast too where they both seemed to hold each other back, especially with the line "In a pot where I can't grow". It's a sad tune, but one bursting with a charm that is just nice to listen to. It is very much one of those songs you hear on a rainy day with some hot coco, at night, just chilling out and playing some games on the television.

We pick up speed a bit with And Never Know, going for a more proggy sound. This song definitely is a lot heavier, reminding me of songs on THRAK or The ConstruKction Of Light, but with its own flavors and spices, making it a more rewarding and exciting experience. This also showcases the creativity the band can pull off with their instrumentation, going from more proggy songs to minimal songs to another proggy tune on a dime without them feeling like a conundrum of consistency, especially how they flow into each other perfectly. I really like the added heaviness this song has, a lot bigger and intense that makes me feel the weight of the lyrics, with it showing the man now, drinking and smoking his sorrows away, retelling his relationship with his ex wife, probably to a friend or a bartender, and it seems he leaves the place he is in at the last few seconds of the song, meaning this man is outside now most likely.

Now we have Roulette, the longest song on the album being over 12 minutes. It goes back to a similar, less heavy Prog sound on Sunrise, but it progresses to new adventurous sounds, some darker, lighter, weirder, or just crazier. It's like a roulette wheel, you do not know what you'll get in this song, and it adds a beauty to this album that shouldn't be overlooked, though I feel like this is the one of the more weak song on this album, the singing is a little less than stellar unlike the last songs, and it feels a bit too slow with how it can change, not that it should be fast pace, but maybe it should've used it's length to more of its advantage with multiple sections than stuff that seems to take longer than it needs to. The lyrics are also not the best, the whole political war aspect kinda comes out of nowhere and I cannot see it fitting into the story all that well. My guess it's about the man trying to not follow any trend and remembering their past in the army, but other than that it feels a bit of a crux to try to reflect the whole album's themes of depression and breakup. I know I am racking on this song a bit, but I know this band could do better, I heard them do better so it feels a little off putting hearing them not be their best both lyrically, vocally, and pacing wise, but that's just what I think.

With that out of the way we got Dark Poet, similar in vain to Afternoon Conversation but on piano instead. This goes back to a feeling of the past that Afternoon Conversation but with a different type of past, this time being more in line with a relationship breaking apart where it's not fun anymore for both parties. The lyrics reflect this well with the lady just wanting to dance and fade away while the man just doesn't want to be there anymore cause it isn't happy, and this is honestly a very real and very beautiful song that feels very natural in it's themes and symbolism and I love this about the album. It feels so real and mature to where it feels like anyone has at least gone through something similar with what the man has gone through. A dead loved one, a long lost pet, a friend who you haven't seen in a long time, the feeling of loss whether of death or love is what everyone goes through in their lives, making the whole album feel a lot closer to the heart and soul than that of A Lamb Lies Down On Broadway or The Wall. Not bashing on those albums mind you, but I feel less likely to care for the characters or themes on those albums because they don't feel relatable to mine or anyone's experience with life, either that or they are too weird and zany to capture what life is like. This hits those marks perfectly and this song and the songs before, heck even a little bit of Roulette, has made me feel a sense of relatability with the man and his story, even if mine plays out differently.

After that, we got my favorite song on the album, Harmony. Super fun proggy stuff. I adore the organ, it gives me a ton of early Genesis vibes on stuff like Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot, while also giving us some nice slower and heavier stuff, giving us this nice feel of symphonic type melodies and hard rock sounds. It's super enjoyable and flows amazingly well to where every second doesn't feel wasted where the band reaches their full light and showcases their beauty. I love how the lyrics gives us some hope for the man with him seeing a woman who looks familiar to his girlfriend with similar eyes to the one he broke up with, but when he tries to go and meet her, he cannot see her, probably either due to traffic of people and cars or because that woman could've been a drunk and smoking filled illusion, which if it's the latter makes this story even more sad.

After all that we get The Ungodly Slob, an instrumental track. This is another weaker track like Roulette, however it's weaker in the fact that it feels extremely out of place in the narrative. With the lack of lyrics it makes it feel like an odd inclusion in this album that I felt like it was entirely unneeded. Not saying the song is bad though, the instrumentation is still great as ever, and it's not too long with it only being up to 6 minutes long, but yet it still feel out of touch with the album, like it was a song planned for another album but was added on to this album just because they wanted to use it. To be honest, this probably should've stayed on the cutting room floor.

With that out of the way, Year Of The Knife lurks its head in. This song has a very cool flow to it, and it reminds me of a ton of Gentle Giant songs, especially that sorta twang the beginning has with the guitars and organs. It gives it a sorta edgy and medieval flair to it that gives it its own strong sense of wonder and intensity and I love it so much, it makes me feel like discovering my love for those old bands so much more. The lyrics are also reflective of that familiar sound with the man walking through the town and remembering a time in his childhood where he went out at night and was attacked by a knifed maniac named Big Blade Bill, which gives the man a more thorough background as this man who has gone through so much that he drinks to forget, yet seems to always remember throughout his day.

And now we reached Without You, another acoustic track of the man talking about his ex wife and how sorry he is for not taking things slowly and rushing too much to where now that everything is quieter, it's a lot lonelier and much more depressing. I really like this a ton, though it feels a bit repetitive at this point to where I kinda wanna know more about the inner struggles of the man than the struggles he had with his love life. Still a good song but definitely a bit stale.

But then we get Same Old Song, also known as Sunset. I really think this is the best closing this album could have, giving a sense that this isn't closure, but rather an end of the day with a slower, and stronger sound that takes its time without such a long length of music, plus the music feels like it is played through a radio, making it have this echo like sound, almost like the man is hearing this tune on the radio and singing to it, making up his own lyrics along. The lyrics give closure to the man's journey with him now in the middle of the night, fully lamenting his ex wife and how he feels so cold and desolated to where he thinks that if he disappears his old lover would not care in the slightest. However with this being part 1, this doesn't mean the man's journey is over and maybe the night might allow him to try and change his path to a better direction without making everyday more lonely and bitter with the taste of cigarettes and bottles of beer, making this a grand spectacle of a song, closing out the first half of this man's fruitful day.

So if you haven't guessed it, I love this album. Sure it has it's hiccups, a bit too many to make me feel like this album is absolutely perfect and an essential listening experience, but it gives a human and honest experience that many concept albums doesn't seem to give, letting the listener sympathize the main character of he album much more, and the fact this is part 1 and it's already an amazing listen makes me super excited to check out what part 2 might have in store. I fully recommend checking it out cause it is a wonderful experience from one song to the next.

Dapper~Blueberries | 4/5 |


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