As far as modern progressive rock goes, Spock's Beard are probably the most fun band around. Flippantly named after that one episode of Star Trek that gave us the frighteningly barbate Leonard Nimoy, the band have become known for releasing album after album of high quality, if not exactly original, music. Their most recent studio album, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep, is yet another enjoyable (and somewhat flawed) entry to their discography.
On Brief Nocturnes, Spock's Beard continue to play that bright, pop rock-influenced variety of progressive rock they've become so known for, highly reminiscent of the later releases from Yes or Genesis. All of the songs are filled with a level of verve and zest that cannot be ignored, sweeping the listener up in the powerfully gripping melodies, crazy soloing, and jaw-dropping vocal harmonies. One only has to listen to a handful of tracks to understand that Spock's Beard have essentially mastered pop rock as a genre. ("Sumberged" is a particularly effective earworm of a ballad, and is getting way more plays than I feel comfortable admitting to.)
However, the frustrating thing about Brief Nocturnes is that it's really the umpteenth time we've heard this album from Spock's Beard. While it's still enjoyable, it sounds like a blander version of their prior works, not to mention that it lacks the power of their strongest releases like The Light, V, Snow, or even the recent X. After one or two listens, you'll have heard all there is to be heard here, and it's not likely you'll be returning it to it. (I mean, why listen to an okay track like "Waiting for Me" when you can rock out to the superb "At the End of the Day" or "The Light"?) I suppose that's not really meant to be a negative (good music is good music, after all), it's just hard to ignore that Brief Nocturnes becomes bland after a few listens, and it's hard to justify listening to it with so many better releases from the same band.
Long story short, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep is nothing new. Then again, Spock's Beard of all bands can afford to get away with it. If you loved the band before, you'll be delighted by this release, and if you're checking them out for the first time, you won't get a bad impression from this album...but it's still far from the best they have to offer.
Recommended if you like: Yes, Transatlantic, post-Gabriel Genesis