Spock's Beard - The Kindness Of Strangers
Radiant Records
Progressive Rock
7 songs (56:35)
Release year: 1998
Spock's Beard, Radiant
Reviewed by Aleksie
Archive review
Just a year removed from their previous album, Spock’s Beard launched right back into the studio to crack out their third full-length, The Kindness Of Strangers (possible connections to A Streetcar Named Desire unknown). After definite signs of solidifying their own thing on Beware Of Darkness, this is the point where the Beard got there, nailed it well and didn’t lose steam for a good number of years.

The Good Don’t Last opens the record as one of three epics found on it. Some grandiose organs lead into the playful and precise jamming that the band excels at with some upbeat acoustic chords that set the pace for what I’d say is a happily twisted album. The songs aren’t smiles and sunshine throughout by any means, but even in the most lyrically critical moments there a distinct optimism that makes me happy listening through the disc. It could also just be the stellar musicianship, but I digress. This song is also the first time the Beard brings in a full string quartet to augment their traditional band ensemble and it works really well for atmospherics.

The more compact, tightly rocking potential that was clearly built on the previous album is what most notably blossoms on this one. In The Mouth Of Madness (seriously awesome drum rolls), Cakewalk On Easy Street (superb dynamics) and Strange World (naive or not, that’s some damn enjoyable social commentary) all shine as straightforward, driving rock numbers that may not set the prog world on fire, but slam so very, very well. In the midst of these three one can also find June, the band’s single best piece of über-melodic pop to date. Feel the 3-part vocal harmonies meld in with the acoustic guitars and fly away…

As for setting the prog nerds on fire (flamethrower not mandated), the final duo of Harm’s Way and Flow should provide ample material for that task. Harm’s Way takes a nod to The Light with guitar solos, drum solos, polyrhytmics with the mandated keyboard-awesomness and all that quirky prog delight, while Flow gives you that same impression at first, but at over 15 minutes of running time, slows it down into the kind of majestic proclamation-type deal that gives you the image of a band on top of a mountain just belting this sucker out with deliberation. And they don’t even need an orchestra to pull it off! Goodness…

Anyhoo, all hyperbole aside, The Kindness Of Strangers is the album where the band managed to brilliantly mash up the otherworldly zaniness of The Light with the more streamlined vision of Beware Of Darkness to display the best of both worlds. From here until the closing notes of Snow, it is all sweet, sweet gravy in this reviewer’s ears.

Killing Songs :
All of 'em, with my favourites being In The Mouth Of Madness, June, Strange World & Harm's Way
Aleksie quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Spock's Beard that we have reviewed:
Spock's Beard - Beware Of Darkness reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 82 / 100
Spock's Beard - X reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Spock's Beard - The Light reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 95 / 100
Spock's Beard - Spock's Beard reviewed by Marty and quoted 83 / 100
Spock's Beard - Day For Night reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 94 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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