I was handing out Beard Rock cards to a small group of pissed-up fellows at a recent festival, and one of them remarked, “You haven't got much of a beard.”
“This is six or seven weeks' work,” I replied.
“Really? It could be from this Thursday.” He was clean-shaven as a jazz periodical mound. I tried to laugh it off as I slinked away rapidly. But I was dead inside. He was right...my genetic cards have fallen in a pathetic manner. After several weeks of zero shaving effort, all I had to show for it was a reasonably bushy neck, an upper lip with hair so fair it is only distinguishable within 12 inches of my face, and curly, uneven patches around my cheeks and jaw. But at least I TRIED, goddamn it. At least I tried.
So, any criticism I make of this record, staggering in its perfection, is entirely down to beard envy. I must congratulate The Beards. Those who truly appreciate the power of facial hair will never tire of their joke, which they stretch out through 12 tracks of their third album, cementing 'Having a Beard is the New Not Having a Beard' as an excellent stocking-filler for hirsute family members, and surely guaranteeing that the band will finally be bored of the whole fucking concept by Christmas too.
There is obviously nothing to be taken too seriously here, but musically the band should be given their dues as they take an accomplished whistle-stop tour of rock and roll history in preaching their pogonology. 'I'm In The Mood...for Beards' kicks things off with fully-exposed testicles, locked into an AC/DC / Free groove, and later the album takes in cod reggae ('Got Me A Beard'), minor key folk ('The Beard Accessory Store'), prog ('The Beard') piano blues ('Still got me a beard') and AOR balladry ('I Think Beards are Great'). There are bursts of Darkness-style falsetto and the acoustic comradeship of Tenacious D; this is a band united by hairiness rather than weight. Only latter-day Bathory-style Viking metal is a glaring omission. Shame.
The rich seam of wisdom present here on the superior virtues of the bearded man is undeniable, whether it's outlining his sexual prowess or his greater capacity for alcohol. Twelve tracks of this in one go is a tough ask though. I've no doubt that Christians see the bible as a bastion of truth, but only the most masochistic fundamentalist would choose to read the whole gamut of wacky fables every day. However, the music rocks sufficiently hard, and there are enough humorous lyrical gems here for you to revisit the odd track or two when you are holding a social gathering of bearded friends, naturally accompanied by an admiring throng of big natural GILFs imploring “I want you to give it to me / the way that only a bearded man can.”
Lyrical highlights include the defiance of 'This Beard Stays' ('My dad had a beard / cause my dad wasn't shit') which goes on to document the triumph of the beard over The Man. It also contains a decent sax solo, if such a thing actually exists. 'Why Having a Beard is Better than Having a Woman' is imbued with the mischievous spirit of facken legend Kevin Bloody Wilson: 'You can attack your beard with a razor / it'll keep coming back'.
The Beards have some decent tunes to down Special Brew to, and their lyrics are a nice bit of frivolous fun. For a bit. After several listens, I've probably had enough for about a year. Mind you, I have noticed my tash becoming firmer, more bristling. Okay, once more... purely medicinal.
Posted: Sun 7 October 2012