Valedictory Songs is no farewell. It marks a graduation of sorts for the Bevis Frond from the psychedelic bubbling and gurgling guitar experimentation of previous albums to crunchy psych-pop with an emphasis on straight-up songwriting. In addition to the band's characteristic Hendrix-ian fanfare ("Can't Feel It" and "Sugar Voids"), Valedictory Songs presents a wealth of styles for a seriously mind-altering trip. Nick Saloman's keyboards and vocals on "By the Waters Edge" along with Ade Shaw's thick bass groove give the song a bluesy, garage vibe. There are feel-good Beatles melodies here too ("Early Riser" and the sitar jam "Artillery Row"), Nick Drake-esque folk-rock (the pretty melancholy of "High on a Downer"), and new wavy power punk ("We Are the Dead"). These eclectic tunes flow together to make one of the most satisfying psychedelic albums you're apt to find. The culmination is "Portobello Man," a story of future archeologists' discovery of "the bones of Portobello Man." This is a definite contender for the best under-heard song of 2000. To nostalgic strumming and piano, Saloman asks, "But then isn't freedom part of everybody's plan?" Put on some big, vintage headphones and throw Valedictory Songs on the stereo. You'll have your answer and your freedom.
AllMusic Review by Charles Spano