Morphine's fourth studio release, 1997's Like Swimming, was a bit of a disappointment when compared to such stellar earlier releases as Cure for Pain and Yes. After singer/two-string bassist Mark Sandman died of a heart attack on-stage in 1999, many Morphine fans assumed that Like Swimming would be the band's swansong -- thankfully, it wasn't. The Boston trio completed their fifth album just prior to Sandman's untimely passing, entitled The Night, and it's definitely an improvement over its predecessor. Whereas many of the songs on their previous album sounded unfinished and rushed, The Night sounds like a fully realized work. In fact, the band took time to focus on expanding their minimalist sound to include other instruments (cello, violin, upright bass, oud, organ) and new approaches (female backup singers, string arrangements), while Sandman produced the album himself. Highlights include the ghostly "Souvenir," the Middle Eastern sounds of "Rope on Fire," the sultry album-opening title track, and the up-tempo (by Morphine standards, anyway) "Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer." The Night shows that Morphine was just entering a new phase of their career, and it's a shame that Mark Sandman is no longer with us to follow through on this promising new direction.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato