Hazy Psych-Rock Meets Candlelight Blues
A sporadic drum fill into the opening track ‘In The Beginning (Rough Cut)’, appears to set the tone for much of The Toastbeards’ ‘Official Fools’. A peculiar blend of trashy pub-rock and bizarre technicality, with hints of Hendrix-esque psychedelia, The Toastbeards, even upon first listen, set themselves apart from other acts in the same vein. Reminiscent of late 70s blues-rock acts, but with an original (and gripping) oddness, ‘Official Fools‘ aspires to remind us of the undiscovered potential of a seemingly outdated style.
Rod Naquin’s vocals, which are perhaps the most engaging feature, add a certain enigma to their sound, creating a haze of ‘pleasant unease’ that greatly enhances the more psychedelic aspects of their music, the only drawback being that they don’t feature enough! Coupled with this, tracks like ‘A Beard Of Nonstars’ and ‘Fools Major Theme’ feature an unusual and complimenting discordancy, which gradually unfolds into tight blues jamming. These features are reminders of space rock and progressive rock acts, minus the often comical over-technicality, and it is clear that The Toastbeards have a wonderful and innovative grasp of melody and harmony, rooted by the powerful yet delicate momentum of Chase Chauffe’s drum parts. Despite being on the lo-fi end of production and recording, I feel that ‘Official Fools’ is greatly enhanced by this sound, producing a cosy, intimate vibe that would likely be lost with a more clean-cut approach to its sonic quality. The Toastbeards’ interesting balance of improvisational wizardry and candlelight intimacy combine to give ‘Official Fools’ a trashy, yet charming sound, carrying them out of the straight jam scene and into something much more sophisticated and refined.
However, this is not entirely true for the whole album. Despite The Toastbeards’ obvious musicianship, it is likely that fans of modern rock may find ‘Official Fools’ a little dry in parts. As the album begins to reach an end, the tracks feature less of the more original aspects and begin to adhere more closely to straight blues. ‘Official Fools’ proves to be a highly original rock album harmonically, melodically and rhythmically but is perhaps less favourable to some modern ears, possibly due to an aesthetic that is rather dated. Nevertheless, I highly recommend ‘Official Fools’ as a must listen for all rock lovers and certainly all classic blues fans… an evening spent with this charming record will not go amiss.