27th January 2015 - InsideOut Music
01. The One Inside Part 1 – Noise In The Background
02. Hold On
03. Comfort Zone
04. Can You See Me Now
06. The One Inside Part 2 – My Companion Throughout Life
07. Daughter Whore
08. Ode To The Rock ‘N’ Roller
09. If We Must Be Apart (A Love Story Continued)<
10. The One Inside Part 3 – Relief
Beardfish are a strange band. Their attitude towards music seems to harken back to the explosion of creativity that heralded the original prog rock movement in the early 70s. If bands like Transatlantic and The Flower Kings are held as examples of bands who are everything wrong with prog rock, Beardfish should be the band that are heralded as the one who are everything right – and prophetically, for the reasons that +4626-COMFORTZONE, their brand new album, talks about in its overarching themes.
The concept of this, their eight album, is getting stuck in the comfort zone in life; how that can negatively affect you, and finding a way to break out of that. It seems pretty clear that Beardfish are a band that take this truly to heart, because the record breaks out of any and all moulds the listener could care to name. Sure, it has its influences, but it goes nowhere near sounding derivative. It has a rock side to it, but it allows for so much more than that; one song will be a more psych rock, and the next will be a much heavier hard rock, all tied together with a string of weirdness.
After the short opening track, with its weird string part, +4626-COMFORTZONE immediately moves into crunchy prog rock territory, setting the tone for the album ahead. “Daughter” displays their mastery of a more modern prog style, hitting all the right notes, but across the board the instrumentation is fantastic, with various guitar parts, bass guitar, vocals, organs and keyboards all layered together. The mix is fantastic; it’s dynamic, clear, and deep. All the instruments shine through; the guitar tones are crisp – not at all mushy or overdriven – and the bass guitar, which can be so elusive in so many album mixes, indelibly makes its presence known – even when doubling the guitar parts. And when the organs make their faces shown, they shimmer through in the most beautiful way that only an organ can.
“If We Must Be Apart (A Love Story Continued)” is undoubtedly the finest song on the album. The fifteen minute epic takes the listener on a sonic journey through all the territories Beardfish have already introduced us to, and then some. If there’s one weak spot, it comes in the form of “Ode to the Rock’n’Roller”, which feels a bit sloppy and underwritten. It stays with the album’s theme – in fact it demonstrates it quite well – but the music could possibly have been presented in a more cohesive way.
+4626-COMFORTZONE is an excellent foray outside of the band’s comfort zone. Beardfish are veterans, and it certainly would be easy for them to slip into a formulaic, uninteresting sound. Instead, they are continuing to push the boundaries of their music and exploring new territories. The instrumentation and musicianship are top notch, and the songwriting is memorable, and from the late 60s psych rock throwbacks, to flairs of modern heavy bombast, +4626-COMFORTZONE is a startling album of variety and creativity.
Best songs: “Daughter” “If We Must Be Apart (A Love Story Continued)” “Hold On”