Review Summary: Performance review: meets or exceeds expectations.
One of the main certainties of attempting innovation is that mistakes will be made – and one of the main tenets of business and innovation postulates said mistakes should be owned up to, assessed and learned from if any new venture or project is to be successful.
In that regard, Portland-based Kentuckians Bearded Executive can be said to truly have lived up to their name and concept; for what the group shows on their second EP, Concerns of the Agency
, is a marked and declared improvement on what was presented on The Enterprise Scale
, their first venture after becoming an incorporated LLC.
Released only ten days
after said first outing, as if to show this growing company still maintains its startup ethics, Agency
sees the Bearded Executives move further away from its roots, presenting almost twice as many songs as usual, of which two clock in at under two minutes - one of which a snippet of elevator music which barely exceeds thirty seconds
- and only one stretches beyond six. Perhaps in an attempt to fully sever ties – or perhaps simply seeking to follow entrepreneurial best practices - the conglomerate also make themselves, if possible, even more
faceless than before this time around (no pun intended with the artwork); not only do the men behind the venture remain wilfully anonymous, but the one fuzzed-out profile picture on their Bandcamp page has been replaced with a generic shot of a night-time skyline. And while the aforementioned cover may yield a clue as to the reasons behind this change - showing, as it does, three
bearded executives, where said photo showed only two – it remains unclear whether said representations truly are meant to represent the current team behind the project, or simply token representations of its core concept.
These are answers which may forever remain unanswered, but whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure – the Concerns of the Agency
are baseless and unfounded. This corporation may have gotten off to a rocky start, but at this point, it is thriving.
Indeed, improvement on the first outing is, as mentioned, clearly apparent across the board, from the moment the new offer is first appraised. The cover artwork begins to set the mood, now conveying a mood akin to one of those stylishly cheesy covers for old-school sci-fi novels, as opposed to Scale
’s ’five-year-old’s MS Paint drawing of his Dad
aesthetic; more importantly, however, the increase in effort bleeds right on through to the contents themselves, which retain all of the project’s strengths while also openly addressing and correcting the main issue plaguing the debut – namely, the appallingly programmed percussion.
In fact, even a cursory listen to Concerns of the Agency
reveals just how much of an impact the clumsy, clunky drum-machine work had on the previous outing’s sound. While still notably artificial, drum programming on this follow-up EP has improved to the point where it no longer interferes with what the conglomerate is attempting to create - though perhaps only because, this time around, automation has been simplified, with the machine never being asked to do anything it is not naturally capable of doing. Rather, the founders appear perfectly content to just let their software follow along its expected procedures, leaving the innovation to the human side of the equation – a plan which almost backfires when what appears to be a machine uprising suddenly erupts during the Performance Review
, instantly turning an otherwise dull, rote procedure into one of the most interesting parts of the whole experience.
On the whole, however, the results of this second joint venture do come off as much more natural and organic than their efforts from the first – more along the lines of the Executives’ previous brainchild, whose mid-period work the opening and closing salvos of this presentation strongly evoke. There is a marked increase in intensity (the influence from industry leaders Black Sabbath is prevalent for the first time in quite a while) which, when coupled with a new-found sense of experimentation, makes for a fluid, easy-flowing experience – even when the machines threaten to take over near the end. Upon completion of this presentation, the main take-away is that, yes, the Bearded Executives did learn from the mistakes they made the first time around, and that their subsequent SWOT analysis was entirely successful in not only making up for that initial stumble, but also informing the best course to follow going forward. Now, all that is left to do is ensure said path is followed through to completion, and there is no reason for this company not to outperform (or, at the very least, match) the team’s previous endeavours.