Sound: After creating the enjoyable yet tough to differentiate "Turn" and "Sea Of No Cares" records, GBS endured a year of tough personal experiences, losing friends to cancer and suffering the departure of longtime bassist Darrel Power. In typical fashion, the boys responded with an album that is deliberately bracing and optimistic. the addition of a new rythm section, Murray foster of Moxy fruvous and NS skinsman Kris Mcfarlane- also acts as impetus to ratchet up the pop-rock component of the band's music-some songs here are uninhibitedly electric, and only two traditional tunes are included. However, the painful inspiration for much of the material means blandness is not too widespread despite some decline in quality towards the middle-end of the record. // 7
Lyrics: While the trials that produced this music means some missteps should be forgiven, the general sentiment that the first five songs of the album are by far it's strongest is largely accurate.
01. Shines Right Through Me - perhaps the groups least folk inspired tune is happily one of their most original. an innovative ascending chord progression that touches on the minor fourth is anchored by Foster and MCfarlane's excellent chemistry. great pop.
02. When I Am King - this deservedly well lauded tune is another venture into electric saturation, with Alan's vocal jumping around the G major scale. As with the first track wash backing vocals (ooh) provide strong support, an addition sometimes credited to Foster's presence.
03. Beat The Drum - a cover of scots band Runrig's colourful tune, that like many others attempted by GBS actually outpaces the original, by virtue of vocal skill and energy. Included here as an affirmation of life, this is truly a stirring track.
04. Something Beautiful - the title track is a ballad that gently addresses the group's grieving friends. With Bob's gorgeous whistles, this is one of the group's better slow songs.
05. Helmethead - Bob Hallett's turn at the mike is a rollicking tale of a roguish hockey player recounting his various flings. The instrumentation is acoustic, being delivered at a tempo that would approach celtic punk if it were otherwise. Cleverly written as most of his contribution, bob here scores an enduring live favourite.
06. Summer - Sean Mcann's first ballad on the record is an achingly delivered one promising hope with the arrival of the personified summer. Musically identical to his "My Apology" it offers little invention.
07. Sally Ann - an uptempo alan doyle tune delivered with similar instrumentation to the opening two tracks yet little of their innovation. While it's inspiration is likely that of an associate strong in the face oh hardship the music does not reflect that. Whenever the beatles were dozing as lyricists, writes Ian Mcdonald, they tended to write about diamonds and rings. GBS similarly tends to prattle on about kings, queens and servants.
08. Somedays - the best of Sean's rather middling contributions to the album climbs a stepwise progression and is largely memorable for it's rhyme of "psychotic" with "gin and tonic."
09. Let It Go - a doyle penned ditty predictably in praise of simplicity and beauty. Like much of the lesser material filling this disc's de facto "side two", it seems musically and lyrically like a pale revamp of "Play" era material.
10. John Barbour - the only on instrumental traditional tune here is a Newfoundlander variant of the very old child ballad "willie o'winsbury". The treatment here is odd, only sean singing against his acoustic palm muted chords before a wash of electric guitar and harmonium ensues, and works largely by bob's ingenious inclusion of the air "the rambling irishman" for instrumental whistle passages. A late album highlight.
11. Lucky Me - an alan doyle tune very similar to his equally placid (9) and (7).
12. Chafe's Ceilidh - a set of two dance reels from newfoundland: "heel and toe polka" and "around the house". Recalling the previous record by closing with up tempo reels, this pair is a bit less memorable than the bouncing fortune set. // 8
Overall Impression: This album, while flawed, is a step forward for the band after three very similar albums. It contains some of their best material, though that is largely contained within the first five tracks. "Shines Right Through Me" and "When I Am King" are wonderful, refreshing pop tunes, "Beat The Drum" is a rousing performance, "Something Beautiful" is rightly bracing, and "Helmethead" gets feet tapping even faster. While enthusiastic fans of the group should add this record to their collection, more casual listeners would be better advised to go with the aforementioned five tracks along with "John Barbour". the group's pop immersion does pay some dividends, but the group would smartly follow this with the all acoustic, all traditional "The Hard And The Easy". // 7