Track listing: Megalopolis II, Nature of Greed, My Lion, Incomplete, I Might As Well Be in Prison, Enable, Megalopolis I, The Wardrobe, No Less Days, For Lack Of A Better War, She Limps In Beauty Through The Mall, Midnight, At Day's End, Scattered, No Less Days (Reprise)Inspired by the likes of Yes, Rush, and The Alan Parsons Project, Francis McGrath has created in his solo album, No Less Days, an intricate amalgam of genres, moods, and instrumentation. From the opening notes of the ominous instrumental "Megalopolis II" through the grandiose fanfare of "No Less Days (Reprise)," the album emanates an extensive intellectualism, landing somewhere in between concept album and a Sondheim soundtrack.
No Less days is a musical production with a dazzling variety of instrumentation that simultaneously conveys powerful lyrical messages and lessons—aiming to do it all in just under an hour. The trek through the album presents intended mood ebbs-and-flows. The sound effects (wind, church bells, explosions) of "Megalopolis II" give way to the Rush-like arrangement of "Nature of Greed." "I Might As Well Be in Prison" brings in a peppy boogie woogie piano lilt, countered later in the album by the tongue-in-cheek electro-Irish waltz style of the war critique, "For Lack Of A Better War."
While musically exploring many realms, lyrically McGrath offers numerous critiques on society's commercialism, distribution of wealth, and industrialization. "Nature of Greed" laments, in a driving progressive rock arrangement, our being too caught up in day-to-day life to notice the beauty of nature.
We’re stuck in our cars, Traffic's trapped, push and pull.
The sunset is clear, And the moon will be full.
Too many people don't look as the world turns away from the sun...
"She Limps In Beauty Through The Mall" musically channels a Burt Bacharach ballad, while lyrically exploring misdirected vanity.
A monument to modern sins: The rows of stores extend for miles...
Through this a mutant woman toils; With legs deformed she barely crawls.
Her cysts her pimples, warts and boils Are blasphemy to hallowed malls.
Like cathedrals with their gargoyles, She limps in beauty through it all.
No Less Days' themes are not entirely heavy, however. "Midnight" is playfully reminiscent of Todd Rundgren's "Bang On The Drum All Day" and humorously answers the question it poses:
The clock on my VCR always blinks midnight
Do you know what that means? Or haven’t you heard a word I say?
It means it's always, always, always a brand new day.
No Less Days is the product of McGrath's wide swath of musical influences. It explores sound and style aggressively, not carrying a single thematic style throughout the album. The songs jump sonically from decade to decade, genre to genre. Listeners decide whether this refreshing or distracting...or a bit of both. There are not many albums whose descriptions can accurately contain a collection of words including gothic, ominous, playful, futuristic, retro, tribal, Rundgren, boogie woogie, Bacharach, Irish, ethereal, and political. McGrath brings all of the above, and more, into No Less Days.