Mrs Caligari’s Lighter
‘This is an astounding album from Beggars Opera, frequently tumbling into creative and musical genius! Listening to it feels as if progressive rock has finally had its ragged edges polished off to form an outstanding artefact of new musical and emotional perfection.
That certainly doesn’t mean the album lacks life… it’s as alive and full of variety as music can get: a wild swirl of prog rock excitement, funky rhythms, great experimental music touches, slightly-tongue-in-cheek horror references, gentle melodic magic and soft, subtle emotion. The richness in the album is astonishing, with searing, lyrical and sometimes raunchy guitar work from Ricky Gardiner, amazingly complex percussion from Tom Gardiner, and subtly complicated compositions, loops and arrangements by Virginia Scott, whose compelling vocals and sparse, poetic lyrics are at times curious, at times eerie, and at times hypnotically beautiful.
The rhythmically high-energy tracks make a great foil to the softer, more lyrical compositions and the latter somehow manage to bridge the usually unbridgeable gap between experimentation and addictive ‘listenability’. Each time I have played the album I’ve wakened the following morning to find fragments of lyric and melody from the album drifting pleasantly through my waking brain and reappearing throughout the day.
“The Comforter”, “Love is Just a Torrent”, “How Long Before the Machine Rusts?” and “So Long” are especially evocative and mesmeric. “Love is Just a Torrent” is simply one of the most beautiful and heartfelt love songs ever produced, and the poignant and stunning composition “So Long” is a work of musical genius… simultaneously original, complex, hauntingly emotive and, surprisingly, almost commercial due to its deep melodic lyricism.
In Mrs Caligari’s Lighter, Beggar’s Opera have taken prog rock, given it a good dusting off, dismantled and cleaned its workings, added clever new parts, and placed a gleaming, more powerful motor inside its engine compartment.’