Spock’s Beard – Day for Night
Spock’s Beard is one of those few bands that I know I will get their new album when its released, regardless of commentary or criticism. I decided to actually try and buy Day for Night in a store this time, to check out how their distribution via Metal Blade is going. Not very well, unfortunately. While I can understand the lack of product in West Virginia, to not find the band represented at all in a Tower Records in downtown Chicago is distressing. It’s a shame, too, because while not quite up to their earlier efforts, this is a fine album from one of the top bands around.
My main complaint with Day for Night is that it has a strong sense of deja vu. While The Light, Beware of Darkness, and The Kindness of Strangers each had something different going on in terms of sound, the new release basically walks the same path as Kindness: lots of proggy touches on guitar driven rock with superb musicianship and vocals. Unfortunately, it also moves in the same more mainstream direction as Kindness, and not always that well. I quite like the ballad “The Distance to the Sun”, with its lush harmonies. “Skin”, the obvious choice for a single, however, is just a straightforward rocker, with none of the underlying interest as, say, “In The Mouth of Madness”. Finally, “Can’t Get It Wrong” is just a terrible attempt at a sweet ballad. The french horn lines bring back bad memories of the ballads we had to play at half-time of the homecoming game over and over again to the point of hyperglycemia.
Don’t let that criticism weigh too heavily, however, as the rest of the album has a lot going for it. The title track is good Beard fare, with the big opening and acoustic midsection. “Gibberish” is destined to bring out the calls of “Gentle Giant rip off”, but stands on its own very well. “Crack the Big Sky” has some jazzier moments to it. My jury is still out on “The Gypsy”, which I like but I’m not quite sure why. The really great stuff, however, is the final few tracks, called collectively “The Healing Powers of Sound.” While split up for commercial reasons (apparently), the six cuts blend together as one, with restated themes, both musically and lyrically. It all works really well. The ending is particularly good, being one of those moments that just lifts you off your feet.
I hope that no one gets the wrong impression about my thoughts on Day for Night. It’s an excellent disc, and far from a sell-out that I think some people want it to be. It’s only problem is that it must be compared with earlier Beard albums, to which it just falls short as a whole. But the highs are as high as any other disc. I for one am still on the Beard bandwagon.