Spock's Beard's fourth album, Day For Night, released in 1999, saw the band streamlining their sound somewhat, but still delivering bombastic & melodic modern progressive rock. Fans of the band no doubt knew of their musical prowess, but by this time the Beard were really honing in on their penchant for creating lush and catchy hooks amidst all the prog rock thunder, which is what helped make Day For Night such a great album.
The band always had a habit for kicking things off with a bang, and the title track "Day For Night" is no exception. This tune is a 7+ minute prog extravaganza which sees the Beard a tad more muscular than in the past, with Alan Morse's complex guitar work, Dave Meros' rumbling bass, and Nick D'Virgilio's acrobatic drum fills laying the groundwork for Ryo Okimoto and Neal Morse's layers upon layers of symphonic keyboards. Neal's vocals are nearly perfect on this piece, and the whole band also contributes plenty of their Gentle Giant-styled backing vocals. The next track, "Gibberish" takes that style one step further, a classic tribute to the influential Gentle Giant, from the use of counterpoint and complex time signatures to the multi-layered, medieval sounding vocal layers. After the hard rocking prog of "Skin", the band settles into the harmonious and gentle "The Distance to the Sun", with Neal and Nick's vocals soaring over lush strings, acoustic guitar, and piano. It's one of the most tender pieces on the album, and shows how versatile the band can be. "Crack the Big Sky" returns things to the more bombastic side, with rippling bass grooves, Mellotron, tricky drum fills, wah-wah guitars, swirling Hammond, and all sorts of musical mayhem, led by the addicting vocals of Neal Morse.
The first stumble on the album comes in the form of "The Gypsy", a somewhat rambling piece that despite some neat Mellotron and avant-garde guitar noise, is probably a bit too long for its own good. Trimming this one to four minutes might have served it better, as it does have its moments. As a whole, there seems to be an inner battle on the piece as to whether it wants to be a hard driving funk vehicle or a dark, Mellotron infused prog number. "Can't Get It Wrong" is an interesting song, sounding almost like a leftover from ELO's Discovery, complete with Morse's Beatles-styled delivery, strings, and piano, and while "The Healing Colors of Sound (Part 1)" starts off with a similar feel, it quickly develops into a Yes-like romp, complete with some fine bass lines from Meros, plenty of Mellotron, and Alan Morse's savage guitar solos. This then segues into the funky prog pieces "My Shoes" and "Mommy Comes Back", then turns gears for the tranquil "Lay It Down", a song noteworthy for some great vocal harmonies by the band. This extended epic begins to culminate with "The Healing Colors of Sound", a lovely slice of progressive pop that contains perhaps the albums strongest and most alluring melodies, supplemented by intelligent musical arrangements that don't take away from the main focal point, which are the gorgeous harmonies. Things come crashing back with "My Shoes (Revisited)", complete with Alan's white hot guitar noise and walls of keyboards, bringing the album to a chaotic put passionate end. Day For Night comes with a bonus track ("Hurt"), a more straightforward heavy rock song that sounds a little out of place here, but shows that the band could rock out with the best of them.
Ultimately Day For Night remains to this day a very satisfying Spock's Beard album, and the band would continue along with more strong releases like V and Snow before leader Neal Morse would leave the band for a solo career.
1. Day For Night
4. The Distance To The Sun
5. Crack The Big Sky
6. The Gypsy
7. Can't Get It Wrong
8. The Healing Colors Of Sound (Part 1)
9. My Shoes
10. Mommy Come Back
11. Lay It Down
12. The Healing Colors Of Sound
13. My Shoes (Revisited)
14. Hurt-bonus track