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Spock's Beard - The Kindness Of Strangers CD (album) cover

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 453 ratings

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Fight Club
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Here we have yet another album by modern symphonic prog group, Spock's Beard. As always the band never fails to deliver anything but spectacular enjoyable music. They are very retro with lots of hints of the 70s classics, however there is something that separates them from other retro prog groups.

For one thing, there is a great deal of focus on the melody of their music. Instead of just trying to make the most complex music possible, they enjoy writing real songs. They don't often make things too tedious with meandering solos and loose song structure. Epics like "The Good Don't Last" and "Flow" have, well, very fluent structures. Neal Morse is a master song writer and knows how to connect one section to another. I must also stress what a good song "June" is! This is one their live anthems and is just a great feel good song to sing along to.

Now this album is less of a concept style than The Light was. The songs are shorter for the most part and don't have as much of a connection. This isn't a bad thing though, in fact it makes the album slightly more accessible without sacrificing musicianship. If you're familiar with the band then you know what they are capable of.

For those not familiar, Neal Morse is one of the most prestigious musicians around today. Virtually a musical prodigy since childhood, he had a gift for guitar and piano at a young age. He was the leading man in Spock's Beard, writing out pretty much all of the compositions, lyrics, and arrangements himself (until he left the band after 2002's Snow). The other band members are masterful musicians as well. Ryo's mellotron and hammond lines are like orgasms to the ear, and Nick's drumming is equally tasteful.

Only a couple things bother me. Now, the acoustic guitar playing being fantastic does not compare to the electric guitar playing. Technically, it is good yes, but just seems to lack something. In all honesty I don't think the guitar greatly contributes to the overall sound of their music. It often acts as more of a "filler" just to offer a rock sound, rather than being a prominent force.

Also, while all the songs are enjoyable, there is still something missing. In my opinion this album just isn't quite as coherent as it needs to be in order to be a masterpiece. For me an album has to move seamlessly as a movie would. Each song should represent a scene, a "picture of the whole" if you will, each piece contributing something to the final outcome. The Kindness of Strangers, while each song is strong on its own does not stand well as a single entity.

This matters more to me than it does to some though. If you just want to hear some good tunes with good songwriting and great musicianship, then this could be your favorite album. Of the Spock's Beard releases, this is an excellent, but nonessential compared to their better albums.

My rating: 8.5/10

Fight Club | 4/5 |

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