Who is Rikard Sjöblom you ask? He is better known with progrockers Beardfish. Sjöblom is the lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist for Beardfish. Needless to say, the main question is: why does he need to do a solo album when he is so identifiable with Beardfish?
If this album was a jazz album or reggae album or something other than prog, it might be easy to answer that question. While “The Unbendable Sleep” does experiment a little bit with 70s poprock and other sounds of that era, it’s still not that far away from what he does with Beardfish. Even poppier songs like “Realm Of You And Me” and “Anna-Lee” could work on a Beardfish album.
All that aside, the bottom line is Sjöblom is extremely talented. He has a great voice. He is an excellent musician. And most importantly, he writes great songs with excellent hooks. The main difference on “The Unbendable Sleep” versus a Beardfish album is that the hooks are a bit stronger here. Yes, Sjöblom does two songs that exceed 11 minutes and yes, those songs are the most Beardfish-like. BUT I think they are stronger than anything on the last Beardfish album. A bold thing to say, I know. “Love And War Part Two: Lucky Star” is one of the best things that Sjöblom has ever done.
It goes without saying that Beardfish fans will find a lot to love on “The Unbendable Sleep.” But I think there’s a chance that prog fans who like more variety will find this album a bit easier to manage than a Beardfish album. Is Rikard Sjöblom pulling a “Steven Wilson” and going solo? I don’t think so but based on the level of quality on this album, he most certainly could if he wanted to do so.
1. Love And War Part One: I Am Who You Are
2. Realm of You and Me
3. Rhyme and Reason
4. Will We Cry?
5. Under Northern Skies (Villemo’s Song)
6. Building a Tent for Astor
8. Love And War Part Two: Lucky Star