Chris Knox's ever-productive career shows no signs of slowing down with Beat, just over 70 minutes (counting some silence and a wiggy bonus track) of his own merrily tweaked take on psych-pop and rock, glowing with all the warm and rough energy that's made him a deserved legend. That the album starts with "It's Love" -- perhaps not as scintillating as "Not Taken Lightly," but no less affecting in its sentiments and armed with a killer piano party -- sets the tone for the rest of the album. It's not that he's not avoiding other sentiments, to be sure -- one of the album's subtitles is "the hopeful heart of rage," and while Beat hardly drips with anger, it does have feistiness in spades. "Ghost," the brilliant, energetic rocker that nearly closes the album, details a lingering spirit that's sharp, evil, and in the end all too human. Love itself gets a raking over the coals -- at least in terms of the commercialized and fetishized sense -- with "What Do We Do With Love?" a sprightly and ever more fleshed out arrangement, and Knox's wry singing combining just so. Knox's gift for doing what he wants just how he wants it is everywhere, whether it's with the giddy waltz swing of "The Man in the Crowd," the witty and distinctly unfunereal-sounding "When I Have Left This Mortal Coil," and the slow-building crawl from pulsing bass to wistful country-rock meditation "Becoming Something Other." Some tracks really show his roots with affection -- "My Only Friend" in particular has a harmonized mid-song break that's pure Beatles (and could easily rival it). The Salvation Army Horns (aka Neill Duncan and Kingsley Melhuish) add some peppy arrangements at points, but otherwise it's just Knox and his abilities on display, and once again he does the business.
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