A lot has happened to Thank You Scientist since they originally released their full length debut album “Maps of Non-Extent Places” back in 2012. They caught the attention of Coheed and Cambria’s frontman Claudio Sanchez who effectively made Thank You Scientist their exclusive opening act for a while and then signed the band to his newly formed label, Evil Ink Records. The album was remixed and re-released in 2014 on Evil Ink.
The band finally get to unleash some new music four years after that album with their new album “Stranger Heads Prevail.” For those unaware, the band are well known for their use of horns and strings, with a lack of a keyboardist. Basically, violinist Ben Karas, saxophonist Ellis Jasenovic and trumpeter Andrew Digrius add their distinct sound to each track. This isn’t Chicago where the horns show up as needed. Rather, these guys are interwoven into the very sonic fabric of each track.
For example, on “Caverns” the horns actually hold the notes in the back at times to give the rest of the band room to move on top before they jump forward to provide a melody line. One of my favorite tracks is the instrumental “Rube Goldberg Variations” which always all three of the aforementioned band members plenty of time in the spotlight, especially Karas who can sometimes be overlooked by the slightly flashier sound of the horns or even guitarist Tom Monda, who is a fucking beast.
Let’s not forget the rest of the band! Monda is a great rhythm player and his leads are ridiculous through out “Stranger Heads Prevail.” The rhythm section of drummer Odin Alvarez and new guy Cody McCorry on bass are as tight as you can find in prog. Of course the vocals of Salvatore Marrano are very much the signature of Thank You Scientist. And he sounds better than ever and a lot LESS like Sanchez than people seem to think.
The songs are the key as always. Regardless of how technical Thank You Scientist are (and they are TECHNICAL AS FUCK), I cannot stress enough how strong the melodies are on “Stranger Heads Prevail.” “Mr. Invisible” is a perfect example. “When I say that you can count on me, it’s true. But it seems to me that I can’t count on you.” That chorus is instantly in your head and the music under it is both prog and funk at the same time.
“Psychopomp” is the epic track at just under 10 minutes, yet while it is technical and has great playing from the whole band, it is still very much a catchy song that just happens to be long. That’s the strength in a nutshell of Thank You Scientist. Insanely gifted musicians who understand the importance of melody and structure. Regardless of how crazy this album gets (and it does!), the bedrock that keeps you going back to it are those infectious melodies. The intro melody of “Need More Input” is so infectious, I actually swear I’ve heard it before yet I haven’t!
I also love that the band have a prologue once again and they added an epilogue to “Stranger Heads Prevail.” Just as before on “Maps of Non-Existent Places,” these tracks sound like Jellyfish has reformed and released a follow up to “Spilt Milk.” I’d love to hear Thank You Scientist go for a full album like this, to be honest! It shows just how talented and diverse these guys are.
Thank You Scientist are a unique and very talented band. “Stranger Heads Prevail” is not only proof of that but raises the bar in progressive music as a whole. You won’t hear another album like it this year or even years past, unless it was made already by this band. Stranger heads have prevailed.
1. Prologue: A Faint Applause
2. The Somnambulist
4. Mr. Invisible
5. A Wolf In Cheap Clothing
6. Blue Automatic
7. Need More Input
8. Rube Goldberg Variations
10. The Amateur Arsonist’s Handbook
11. Epilogue: …and the Clever Depart