Finally a new album from Swedish band Beardfish (with apologies for the delayed review! – Ed.), following on from their 2012 release The Void. This latest album clearly shows that the band are continuing to develop an identity of their own, merging the harder influences of The Void with what I would say are the classic Beardfish sounds from earlier releases.
My personal favourite of their releases to date is Sleeping with Traffic, Part Two, partly due to its clear Frank Zappa stylings and influences, but after the harder edge of The Void I was not sure what to expect from +4626-COMFORTZONE. But I need not have feared, Beardfish may just have constructed their best album to date, maybe even their classic, and it will certainly be amongst my top releases for the year.
The album is a concept of sorts relating to the early years of the band in their hometown in Sweden. Indeed I believe the ‘+4626’ of the title is a reference to the dialling code needed to phone home when they were away.
There are many progressive influences throughout this album; Zappa, Van der Graaf Generator, Focus in parts and a little Rush. That said the sound is uniquely Beardfish and if you are familiar with their work then on hearing these tracks you are sure to instantly know who it is as they successfully use their influences to inspire their own take on progressive rock.
The three part The One Inside is interspersed throughout the album as a linking device, starting the album off and reappearing in the middle before closing things out as the final piece, its musical theme developing throughout as well as being referenced at various points within other songs.
There are two longer tracks, one of which, Comfort Zone, I feel is probably the best thing they have done. A mellow and catchy piece, it develops and builds throughout, almost threatening to explode but never quite doing so, remaining interesting and holding the attention throughout.
Grouped around the central part of The One Inside (subtitled My Companion Through Life), King and Daughter / Whore have a much harder edge which works well. King shows what the band have learnt from The Void and how they have incorporated it into their sound with what appears to be a liberal dose of Rush influence. Daughter / Whore continues the heavier theme with a twin guitar attack that becomes evident at around two and a half minutes in.
The longest track, If We Must Be Apart (A Love Story Continued), again evidences the band’s influences with some Van der Graaf Generator-like organ that moves into Focus territory at times. The theme from The One Inside is also in the mix, helping to tie the album together in that typically Beardfish way. Track 9, Ode to the Rock’n’Roller, has some great lyrics in an almost Zappa-like look at progressive rock. I particularly like the lines “And none of those buttholes out there really want anything new” and “They didn’t come to listen they came here to drink”. How true do those lines seem? I can’t think how many times I have been at a gig with people talking loudly and drinking whilst I’ve been trying to listen.
So is this album worth your hard earned cash? Well definitely yes if you are a Beardfish fan – but then you have most likely got it already. If you are not familiar with Beardfish and like good original progressive rock then this is an album well worth taking a chance on. For me, +4626-COMFORTZONE has been on repeat play since I got it and if you are prepared to give it a listen then it may well work its magic for you too.
01. The One Inside: Part One (Noise in the Background) (1:47)
02. Hold On (7:47)
03. Comfort Zone (9:34)
04. Can You See Me Now? (3:43)
05. King (5:43)
06. The One Inside: Part Two (My Companion Through Life) (4:05)
07. Daughter / Whore (5:22)
08. If We Must Be Apart (A Love Story Continued) (15:34)
09. Ode To The Rock’n’Roller (7:20)
10. The One Inside: Part Three (Relief) (4:33)
Total Time – 65:28
Rikard Sjöblom – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
David Zackrisson – Guitars
Magnus Östgren – Drums
Robert Hansen – Bass
Record Label: InsideOut Music
Country of Origin: Sweden
Year Of Release: 2015