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Beardfish - The Sane Day CD (album) cover

THE SANE DAY

Beardfish

 

Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 262 ratings

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jimmy_row
3 stars Who says ballroom dancing ain't cool?

Ah, Beardfish; quickly becoming everyone's favorite "retro" prog band now with four albums under their belt, and a reputation growing stronger with each one. Here we have their second album, still in midst of a transition while piecing together their influences under their own stamp. It's really anything but "sane", a concept about the town of Gooberville (yes they did) with a zany, hit-miss sense of humor and mood-shifts galore. Vocalist/guitarist Rikard Sjoblom added keys to his impressive list of duties following the first album when Stefan Aronsson left the band; the various "vintage" keyboard sounds are still very much to the fore here. It's often said that Beardfish seem to have come straight from the early seventies, without any acknowledgment of musical influences beyond that...I disagree to an extent, but you will still hear a ton of Zappa (for starters, take a look at the song titles) and Gentle Giant on this record - probably their most obvious throwback to the old days. You can hear them beginning to update that "retro" sound here, an approach they would perfect over the following two albums, assimilating some alternative rock, grunge, hard n' heavy, and some Scandinavian folk ('just like they do it back home') alongside the old standby's.

The opening track, "A Love Story", seems to encapsulate everything the boys from Sweden wanted to do. At first, their influences jump right out - the nice piano ditty could've come straight from Free Hand ; but after this thing starts to build up, the various influences gel effectively. Love Story is the longest track on the album, building up over 13 minutes into an emotional climax; the best indicator of where Beardfish would take their sound in the future (maybe the most original song here, once it gets going). Rikard's vocals are especially noteworthy, as if his performance on keys wasn't good enough. Unfortunately, it's hard to follow, and this is a long double-album, so I spend the next 100 minutes waiting between good songs, and it becomes a bit of an endurance test. There IS some good stuff here, don't get me wrong.no, there's a lot of it, but after hearing the Sleeping in Traffic albums, this one feels more unsure and less original. The stronger tracks usually have the most obvious influences, while still thoroughly enjoyable. Highlights include The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer, Tall Tales, The Summit, and the three-track tour-de-force of prog closing out the second disk (ah.that's the stuff I was waiting for, sort of). Between most of the main concept tracks, there are instrumental interludes; I can do without a few of them, but others show great skill and variety - particularly the title track, a relaxing, jazzy lunch break in mid day. The vocals stay strong throughout the second disk, even when the songs wear out their welcome - Rikard has the ability to lift otherwise bland melodies with his enthusiastic delivery. The second disk is much in the same vein as the first, with possibly more contrast between the lightning quick and laid-back sections. "Now" is the premature climax (har-har), Rikard giving everything he has to the vocals before the song dissolves a schizophrenic nine-minute instrumental where they throw everything we've heard so far with extra weight piled onto feverish dual- guitar leads. By the end, I'm tempted to soften my mention of specific influences because this may give the wrong impression - there's no mistake that Bearfish were crafting their very own sound at this point, and it's a joy to watch them grow as musicians and writers (and if you're lucky, performers).

PA Rating: 3/5 .Don't start your Beardfish experience here - it's good, but in this reviewer's opinion, any of the other three albums are better, or at least easier to digest

The Jimmy Row Factor: 6.5/10, C Just listening to it today, I'd say it's better than I remembered.maybe we have a "grower" here. The main problem is that it's "end-heavy", and there's a lot of space between the best tracks. You're probably better off not to 'eat it all in one bite' at first.

jimmy_row | 3/5 |

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