BEARDFISH - Destined Solitaire

Beardfish - Destined Solitaire

9 songs
76:49 minutes
***** ****


While some bands take ages to release a new record, Swedish prog rockers Beardfish must have been suffering from hyperactivity syndrome. After their self-released double album The Sane Day from 2006, they signed to InsideOut where they released the two parted Sleeping In Traffic in the following years. Now, again only one year later, they are back with Destined Solitaire, which this time is only a one-disc album and doesn’t contain any half hour epics anymore. Does this mean that Beardfish have become negligent?

I prefer to believe that the quartet is concentrating its energies on more concise songwriting, although the new CD is still filling its capacity to the maximum with a running time of nearly seventy-seven minutes, and six of the nine tracks still between eight and fifteen minutes long.

Destined Solitaire begins with the six minute long instrumental Awaken The Sleeping, an ideal start that shows immediately that the Swedes play their prog rock without a hindering seriousness, instead opting for a playfulness that is closer to Frank Zappa and Samla Mammas Manna. This is followed by the eleven minute long title track, a rollicking tour de force through many different genres. Even some death grunts can be made out. Until You Comply (including Entropy) stretches their modus operandi into a quarter hour long full of the most unexpected twists and turns. It’s here at the latest where you’ll notice how Beardfish combine the retro sounds of progressive rock with the storytelling characteristics of musicals. That they can as well write short songs can be heard on In Real Life There Is No Algebra, distilling their uplifting sound into a radio airplay compatible length. Apart from the strange two minute collage At Home… Watching Movies, the remaining material consists only of longer tracks, where especially the melancholic Coup De Grāce knows how to stir my soul.

Despite a very busy release schedule, Beardfish still manage to improve. Destined Solitaire takes the virtues from their past and at the same time abandons their folie de grandeur. You don’t get a double album or half hour epics this time, but this still very long album manages, especially during the first half, to offer some of the most entertaining progressive rock available right now. Instead of falling into the trap of sounding as earnest as the genre is often criticised, Beardfish prove that with a healthy dose of humour, this genre can still raise an eyebrow or two. Let’s hope that their target audience will share this view and help them to become as famous as they actually deserve to be.

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