CD REVIEW: Fish on a Friday – Black Rain

There’s progressive and then there’s not progressive. FoF are not progressive. But they have a relatively unique sound and style. Some might call that progressive. So maybe they are. Either way, this is a band where you know what you are going to get every time.

For those of you wondering who they are, they are a foursome of best known Nick Beggs, Marty Townsend, mainstay Frank Van Bogaert and Marcus Weymaere, with a couple of helpers this time round.

First appearing in Fish on Friday’s previous album,Quiet Life, Lula Beggs makes vocal appearances on four of the eleven tracks on the album. Theo Travis also provides some flute on Angel Of Mercy and subtle soprano sax and clarinet on the poetic Letting Go Of You.

If you latch onto the Beggs connection, FoF is the ying to his solo yang in many ways, until you scratch under the lyrical surface. Whilst solo work is abrasive and driven, FoF are smooth and silky. But they have always been thus. Think of the sleek Midlake – they are like that, and if you don’t like bumpy rides, this is a solid album – as all their albums are. Anyway, back to the lyrics: there’s ‘getting older’ of the title track, the ‘world of regret’ underlying the optimism of We Choose To Be Happy and talk of losing the fight and the redemption in the bittersweet Letting Go Of You And they are mad at the world – Fish On Friday even have a song of the same name.

But, let’s not forget Beggs was a later addition. Formed in September 2009, Fish On Friday began with William Beckers and Frank Van Bogaert. Started in Aartselaar, Antwerpen Belgium the band is all about excellent crossover progressive music accessible to both pop and prog music listeners. So whilst there is commentary on the fast-paced changes in the world we live in – environment, war, politics, refugees – there is a sleek positivity throughout. The ebb and flow of Life In Towns alongside the retro Eighties pop synths in Murderous Highland Highway. They are solid, relentlessly upbeat and mid to uptempo, and I would have said light and summery, only I am not sure how you define summer these days. Cheery then. Like the airy We Choose To Be Happy and album closer Diamonds.

I remember first hearing their distinctive sound on Shoot the Moon, and listening to this is like wearing those comfortable slippers or that favourite T shirt. You know where you are with them. I like that. I like them.

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Life in Towns (5:45)
2. Murderous Highland Highway (8:13)
3. Black Rain (4:53)
4. Mad at the World (4:57)
5. Letting Go of You (6:48)
6. Angel of Mercy (4:48)
7. We’ve Come Undone (5:08)
8. Morphine (3:08)
9. We Choose to be Happy (3:25)
10. Trapped in Heaven (4:04)
11. Diamonds (4:22)

Total Time 55:31

Line-up / Musicians

– Frank Van Bogaert / keyboards, guitar, vocals, producer & arranger
– William Beckers / keyboards, percussion
– Marty Townsend / acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin
– Nick Beggs / bass, Chapman stick, backing vocals
– Marcus Weymaere / drums, percussion

– Lula Beggs / vocals

Release information

Label: Cherry Red Records/Esoteric Antenna
Artwork: Michal Karcz

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