Thursday, May 1, 2008

Something Beautiful (That I certainly didn’t miss.. instead listened to it a couple of hundred times)

Bewilderbeest (2000) is the final album of The Sun Sawed in 1/2. First of all, it’s awesome - that’s for sure. This album is a very interesting combination of traditional and untraditional powerpop songs, and genuine Slavic instrumentation.

Bewilderbeest is certainly not the most traditional powerpop album you’ll hear. It contains stuff that is very different from the other material on the same album, but it still sounds consistent. The main reason to this is probably the good song running order. The album starts with two perfect pop songs: Kiss Her Like You Mean It (100% catchy) and The Beholder and His Eye.

The Beholder and His Eye has become my favourite song. It’s actually great being able to name one song as your favourite. I guess it’s quite impossible for most people to pick a favourite song because there are so many perfect songs. For many years I couldn’t name a favourite tune either.

Here are the reasons for The Beholder and His Eye being my favourite song:

1. It’s jangly. It has perfect sounds, perfect playing, and a happy, easy-going feel.
2. The melodies are absolutely perfect in every way.
3. The vocals are the sweetest I’ve ever heard.
4. The lyrics are beautiful and perfect.

After Beholder and an interval comes the first Slavic song, Me, Myself & I. It sounds like Slavic folk music and it’s brilliant. Me, Myself & I, as well as Today I Fell, and the dramatic ending track What Soul Have I were recorded in Kyiv, Ukraine, with local musicians. The result is wonderful and unique. The other songs on the album, recorded in St. Louis, are a perfect match for the Slavic songs because of their melancholy. Ken Kase, who was with the band during this final album, sings two songs, Song No. 11 and Still Rain. Song No. 11 is his own composition, and it surely doesn’t sound like your traditional Sun song. It’s a very good song, and a great addition to this album.

Shining Knight is beautiful. I just love that song and the a cappella part so much. Everything Goes has some jazz quality, and it’s perfect. Painting, Today I Fell, Settle Down.. You can’t go wrong with Tim Rose’s excellent songwriting. The mystery track at the end of the album is also brilliant. I love this band – it’s full of surprises!

However, I think there is one small (very small) problem about this album. The song running order is good, but there are three interval tracks. Each of them serves a special purpose but, in my opinion, they still cause some fragmentation to the album. The songs on this album are very different from each other, and that’s why the intervals are quite useful. I think it’s just that I’m so used to listening music in an extremely economical form with no intervals of any kind. After all, I really don’t even mind this so-called problem. When there are excellent and perfect songs, these kinds of tiny things don’t really matter. In fact, I would never have wanted to miss a track like Denny’s Lounge! It’s great fun, and it adds one whole new music genre to Sun’s catalogue (lounge music that is).

For me, Bewilderbeest is at least hundred times worth its price already for The Beholder and His Eye alone (although determining a value to a song is in fact impossible). When you also have all those other exciting songs.. It’s like a dream come true.

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