Pattern-Seeking Animals arrived suddenly on the scene in July of last year when producer and writer John Boegehold teamed up with current and former members of Spocks Beard he had worked with in the past (Ted Leonard, Dave Meros and Jimmy Keegan) and delivered an eponymous debut album that was met with high praise from fans and critics. The album proved a successful vehicle for Boegehold to record the songs he had been writing that were not quite right for The Beard. A remarkably impressive (and shockingly quick) followup album, Prehensile Tales, is due on 15 May on InsideOutMusic – a mere ten months after the release of the debut. Stylistically, the album continues on a similar path (think The Beard in an alternate universe), but to be frank, this is a stronger batch of songs, and an early contender for top 10 of the year. Suffice to say, if you liked the first album, you’ll love this one – and if you didn’t like the first album… you’ll love this one.
Trumpet, cello, violin, flute, sax and pedal steel have all been added to the palette this time around. Dollops of late 60s Beatles are also detectable at various points throughout, and from beginning to end the album delivers irresistible melodies and memorable hooks – it’s practically oozing them. It’s well balanced, though, and will appeal to fans of more complex instrumental prog as well as those who like a more polished, song-based approach. These guys criss-cross through both territories with ease, and carve out their own little sound in the process.
The album opens on a funky note with the bass & drum intro to Raining Hard In Heaven, a bold 8-minute piece packed with changing moods. A highly melodic verse/chorus blooms into a lengthy prog-rock instrumental section with formidable playing from everyone, and reveals a band firing on all cylinders right from the word go. Here In My Autumn alternates between a sparse, quirky chorus reminiscent of the more interesting 80s bands, and denser verses that lead to a slowly building instrumental middle section, finally climaxing in a welcome guitar solo. It was at this point I knew I already loved this album.
Why Don’t We Run is a brilliant track opening with an Asian motif that quickly unfolds into a richly-textured piece that never stops commanding the attention of the listener. Spanish flavours also appear against a driving beat. This is my own favourite on the album, but I honestly expect to hear any of these six pieces cited as someone’s favourite when the album is released – there’s no dud track on here.
Lifeboat is the first of two large epics, a sprawling 17 minute piece with a lengthy and dramatic instrumental opening and a compelling story. Several major sections make up this piece, and it’s worth noting that Meros and Keegan often threaten to steal the show with their impressive, rock-solid rhythmic backing. Both are excellent and underrated players who frequently stand out in whatever they do, and never more so than on this album. The second epic is the closing track Soon But Not Today, which begins on a gentler note with a piano and violin melody that gives way to a more energetic piece, complete with unusual synth parts and Leonard’s typically strong pipes soaring over top the shifting and unpredictable arrangement. An engaging piece perfectly suited to close out the proceedings.
Prehensile Tales is an album that does not overstay its welcome, a respectable 55 minutes that doesn’t even seem it. Which is a bonus, because it gives you time to spin it again and satisfy your desire to hear those pesky melodies that keep bouncing around in your head. The band clearly caught lightning in a bottle with the songs on this sophomore release, and I’ve grown curiously enthusiastic about what comes next for them. In our current climate, this album arrives like a rushing stream of fresh water on a parched, cracked earth, a soothing ointment for our weathered souls… a refreshing splash of colour on a grey, gloomy world.
Available to pre-order now at InsideOut and all usual outlets.
- Raining Hard In Heaven 8:31
- Here In My Autumn 7:56
- Elegant Vampires 4:29
- Why Don’t We Run 5:08
- Lifeboat 17:20
- Soon But Not Today 12:03
Line-up: John Boegehold (synths, keyboards) Ted Leonard (vocals & guitar) Dave Meros (bass) Jimmy Keegan (drums & vocals)