Inside the Flesh Hotel

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When a band releases their third album five months after their second, you're probably foolish if you're expecting a significant amount of audible growth. But what do you know? Beechwood sound like a stronger and more energetic band on Inside the Flesh Hotel, which arrived in June 2018, hot on the heels of Songs from the Land of Nod, released in January of the same year. Songs from the Land of Nod was fittingly titled, as the performances had a certain sleepy quality even when the band was rocking hard, but while vocalist Gordon Lawrence hasn't abandoned the whispery mumble that dominated the previous LP, this band sounds tighter, more committed, and more forceful their third time at bat. Inside the Flesh Hotel has just enough sloppiness to suit this band's garage-psych persona, but the pop-leaning growl of "Boy Before," the clean-lined and wistful "Amy," the brazen but effective Stooges cop of "Nero," and the fuzzy peal of the guitars in "Over on Everyone" give the impression Beechwood put more care into their music this time out. Lawrence's guitar work is more precise without seeming mannered, and bassist Sid Simons and drummer Isa Tineo keep the songs in line and moving forward with style and just the right amount of muscle. And while these guys generally seem to be too busy exploring inner space to fret much about politics, "Bigot in My Bedroom" is a witty but pointed attack on an unnamed leader who is making Lawrence and his bandmates want to flee the country. Inside the Flesh Hotel isn't a quantum leap into greatness for Beechwood, but on every level it genuinely improves on Songs from the Land of Nod and makes a better case for their talents. Imagine how much better they might sound if they wait eight months to release album number four!

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