Spock’s Beard side project Pattern-Seeking Animals is back with their second album “Prehensile Tales” which is hot on the heels of their self titled debut that was released just last year. The band consists of current Spock’s Beard members Ted Leonard and Dave Meros, the band’s former drummer Jimmy Keegan and their main songwriter John Boegehold on keys. Much like the debut album, the Spock’s DNA is all over “Prehensile Tales.” However, the band sound more cohesive and they take even more chances on this album.
The album opener “Raining Hard in Heaven” immediately reminds me of Roxy Music (a good thing) with its groovy bass line and groove. Think “Love is the Drug.” Excellent melody lines, typically great vocals along with some vintage keys make this a favorite of mine from this album. This track alone is even better than anything on the first album. Not a knock on that album but rather this shows that Pattern-Seeking Animals have grown a lot in a very short period of time. It’s that good.
“Here is My Autumn” was the first track released from “Prehensile Tales.” Another interesting track with it’s own sound. That’s what I love about this band. The songs get their own identity and it’s not just the words and music but the arrangements. I hear a lot of Asia in this one (yet another good thing). Really the track would fit on any Asia album from the Payne era or second Wetton era. A lot of it is that Boegehold is channeling Downes with not only the key lines but also choices of sounds. Also for those who don’t know, Ted Leonard is a damn good guitarist. Check the solo on this one.
Dave Meros is one of the most underrated bassists on the planet. The whole album is a showcase for just how awesome he is. The track “Elegant Vampires” has another killer bassline from him, along with a nice use of a violin and some…congas? I’ll say this again but this band understand how to arrange a song to get the most out of it. “Why Don’t We Run” is yet another interesting song. The keyboards at the start immediately sets the mood. You are transported to a desert somewhere, on horse back. The trumpet solo is another brilliant moment. Even with the details, the bottom line is it’s another great song. The song is always important.
“Lifeboat” is the first of the two epics on the album, and it’s over 17 minutes. Strap yourselves in. It does sound the most like current Spock’s too. Nothing wrong with that really. Lyrically, it’s story based but makes for a good analogy as well. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I love the chorus on this one, MEMORABLE. Very important. But since it is an epic, it does have a big sprawling feel to it. I love the horns used in the section that starts at the 5 minute mark too. Did I mention arrangements? Oh yeah I did. This epic is not about the number of notes but rather the atmosphere that it can create. That doesn’t stop Leonard from playing a great guitar solo. Of course his vocals on this whole album are just amazing, as usual.
“Soon But Not Today” rounds out the album and clocks in at a touch over 12 minutes. A lovely intro which has strings, vintage keys and…a mandolin? Then a surf guitar line kicks the song into gear. Wait what? Then it goes…reggae? And spot the Brian May spot in the song! So PSA aren’t afraid to try different things. Doing this project allows that. Not to say that Spock’s Beard haven’t tried a few things but much of what happens on “Soon But Not Today” sounds very much apart from what that band has done. This is a great example of WHY Pattern-Seeking Animals exists. When 12 minutes can have so much going on and never lose the listener, that’s a damn good song.
I had high expectations for Pattern-Seeking Animals from the start because I love all incarnations of Spock’s Beard. While I did really enjoy their self titled debut album, “Prehensile Tales” is the album I really wanted. It’s as good as anything that Spock’s Beard has done! I said it. “Prehensile Tales” is a must for fans of Spock’s Beard but it’s more than that. It’s a must for anyone that thinks prog rock’s best days are behind it.
1. Raining Hard in Heaven
2. Here in My Autumn
3. Elegant Vampires
4. Why Don’t We Run
6. Soon But Not Today
Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: 15 May 2020