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

SLEEPING IN TRAFFIC - PART TWO

Beardfish

 

Eclectic Prog

4.20 | 760 ratings

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Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars The second part of a two part concept album, Sleeping In Traffic. After listening to the first part, I was absolutely hooked on what Beardfish could do and was by all means, very impressed. I wondered then what this second part would be since the first part ended on somewhat of a cliff hanger and I was very intrigued to see how this band can pull off another section of the life of a depressed man, with the added fact of the gloomy album cover, and the fact this may be taking place at night, I wondered what might come of it and how the story will continue. So after hearing it, I just fell in love with it, but in a different way than that of part one, it felt different yet familiar, and took me a bit too fully to appreciate what the album achieves with its sound.

So when getting into the album, I tried to think of this in the same vein as the last part but also tried to think of it as its own standalone album, but after hearing it I say you should get into this album as if it'll be its own thing, cause while story wise it feels like a logical continuation, instrumentally it has its own energy and flow, making it way more different than the first part. So going into this, what songs are here and how good or bad are they?

The first song, like part one, is a prelude called As The Sun Sets. Right off the bat you can hear something a little different. Instead of beforehand where it was an accordion, it's a weird and wobbly electronic piano sound similar in vain to stuff you'd hear from Tangerine Dream. I love how instantly it expresses the album's difference of feelings with its sound and shows a sorta spunk to this album that is very unlike the sound on the first part, inciting a bit more of a colder and maybe even a flex and flow sorta sound.

After that we head straight Into the Night. I really love this track. It holds up really well and delivers on all fronts. Gotta say I love how lively everything feels at the beginning but then starts to get a bit more intense and robust in the middle, and then back to a song that is very alive near the end. It showcases Beardfish's way of change in their songs and how they can switch on a dime. I have to say the singing in tandem with the instrumentation goes such a long way because it's super good on this song with how it flows from point a to point b almost flawlessly. The song also continues where the last song on part 1 ended, and it shows the man still bitter and depressed, deciding to find his own path in his life cause the town he is living in is only for his self loathing, so he decides to try and go somewhere else. I really like this, it makes the listener feel hopeful for the man, hoping he'll get out of the hole he buried himself in and get better because of it.

The next song is The Hunter. It carries the same torch that Into The Night has, but a lot more bassy and sometimes heavier. The bass work here is very excellent and something that I appreciate the band for pulling off so successfully. It gives this song a sort of heavy aura around it that dang good through and through. It shows the band's technical capabilities and their work ethic. It's honestly super cool. Lyrically, I think this song shines a ton. At first I thought the lyrics were about the man in a abusive relationship with his wife, singing from her perspective, but the more I thought about it, it wouldn't seem to make sense, but then I thought of it as maybe the figurative hunter is actually the man's therapist or doctor, poking at the man, trying to let out his deepest secrets and shaming him for being depressed all disguised as a form of therapy. It sorta makes this song pretty creepy in retrospect, and probably the darkest song on the album, heck maybe the darkest song the band has ever created, and I am all for it.

After that South Of The Border, and this song is practically like a metal song mixed with a bunch of different genres. Sometimes baroque pop, swing, jazz, and that good ol' symphonic Prog. To be honest, I really like this. It feels very varied, and they flow together super naturally that it's a treat that keeps on giving. Everything just goes around and comes around to every point and perspective. No minute is wasted, and I highly appreciate the band for successfully pulling this off. Now lyrically, this song showcases a sorta Zappa flair with the song writing with a lot more funny phrases and names to make this song super bizarre. My guess is about a guy the man sees at the bar, who just wants to pick up some ladies, showing a contrast with the man and everyone around him, and how he realizes he was wasting his life and then becomes determined to fix it. It gives more hope to the listener that maybe the man will make it out of this 24 hour experience in a good shape and a good life.

The next song is an instrumental called Cashflow. It showcases more of the band's rich and great instrumentation, making every second count with some fun, albeit a bit goofy sounding music playing, although this is the weakest song on the album. It doesn't feel like the band is putting out all their might and are just stalling for time. Storywise, at least this song feels a lot better than The Ungodly Slob because I can at least see it sorta fitting in, maybe it's about the man collecting some cash from the bank to possibly find a new purpose in life with what he receives. Just an interesting thought though.

That out of the way we have The Downward Spiral/Chimay. This is a dang good song, super proggy and super interesting at times. It even gets a little folky near the middle, and like a sorta Ommadawn kinda folk. Very English sounding for a band that came from Sweden. While I do like it, I feel like it overstays its welcome a bit, to where the ending feels a bit more tedious than rewarding. The lyrics are still very good, and the songwriting never seems to waiver. It's the man, now sober, about to get on a bus from the bar to leave his crummy town behind. It gives this album a feeling of happiness despite its dark undertones, and I feel like this makes it all a worthwhile time.

And now for the song that must've gotten this album into the spotlight in many Prog fans' eyes, the title track, Sleeping In Traffic. A 35 minute suite of music that shows this band's amazing sound to the fullest and most extreme, proudly showing their inspirations more than ever and giving your ears a wonderful time. What I love about it too is how it flows super well, starting with this cool bass riff to some great genre fusions of more European sounds, to some heavy stuff, to even a little bit of funk, especially with the use of a part in Stayin' Alive by Bee Gees. It's super cheesy and funny but, I cannot help but just love it all the way. Nothing feels too long but nothing feels too short. Every minute counts for this song, and it never fails to deliver. Also the last 5 minutes is very great, not the best finale to a suite I've heard but dang it delivers and makes the long trek even better. The song is also the weirdest on the album storywise. It seems to be the man lamenting on his day so far but also seeing weird stuff like fire breathers and pirate captains, but it gives the listener a sense of wonder and excitement just like what the man experiences. With him leaving his town, he can finally see the wonders life has to offer. It may be a bit crazy, but now the man is a lot more accepting, and at the end, he realizes that he is his own worst enemy and this journey was him realizing that all of this was his own fault, not his ex wife, not the alcoholic drinks and smoked out cigarettes, but his own self. This adds a layer of complexity in the main character, that while a bit cliche, makes this whole journey so much stronger, and I love it. My only problem with this song is that it's a bit too long making it a bit hard to get into fully, and it's sort of a chore to fully get through in one sitting, but either way this song is amazing.

And the last song, Sunrise Again. It's very similar in vain to As The Sun Sets, however I feel like it's more worthwhile and just flat out beautiful. The journey is over and now the man, while still having a hard life, is now happier than ever, which is very hopeful. It's honestly a great ending, no need for a big crescendo, no need for a giant burst of sound, just something small to really make this an experience worth remembering.

So this is an excellent album, but in it's own way than part 1. While part 1 was a more lyrically masterful album, part 2 is more instrumentally complex but still keeping that impressive songwriting torch that part 1 had. Now would I say it's better than part 1? No, probably not. I say they are both equally good but something about part 1 really just hooks me into the story, not so much for part 2. Either way it's still a great experience that I recommend to anyone looking for some great Prog music.

Dapper~Blueberries | 4/5 |

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