PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS - Pattern-Seeking Animals

Pattern-Seeking Animals - Pattern-Seeking Animals

9 songs
58:09 minutes
***** **


Two current and one former member of Spockís Beard have united with a frequent Spockís Beard co-songwriter to form the band Pattern-Seeking Animals, and as much as they donít want to be compared to that band, one just canít help it, considering they share the same vocalist. To be fair though, most members of Pattern-Seeking Animals have joined Spockís Beard only after Spockís Beard band founder Neal Morse left to start his solo career, and I somehow didnít follow them anymore after that moment which happened in the early days of the new millennium.

Pattern-Seeking Animals want to combine progressive rock with more melodic components, and looking at the nine songs on their eponymous debut album, it is interesting to see how the three longs songs take up slightly more time than the six remaining shorter tracks taken together. And frankly, itís on the longer tracks where the band is shining at their brightest. The album starts with the nearly ten-minute-long No Burden Left To Carry, which is a masterpiece in melodic progressive rock, meaning that the complexity and the catchiness go hand in hand. This is what fans of Kansas and Echolyn should really look out for. The following The Same Mistakes Again unfortunately shows the guys from their weakest side. This is a clichťd power ballad with a saccharine string section and strange Asian scales. Itís obvious that John Boegehold, who works in the background as a songwriter for Spockís Beard, is also active as a film and TV composer, but what works for movies does not necessarily work for progressive rock. Orphans Of The Universe is at ten and a half minutes another long-track, and although not as suspenseful as the opener, it still comes with enough progressive chops to make it a more than listenable track. This reminds me at times of Barclay James Harvest before they became a pop band. The strangely titled No One Ever Died And Made Me King is a more straightforward rock song, and after initial misgivings, I have come to appreciate this more direct approach of the band too. And itís back to sweet balladry with Fall Away, a song which is just too mellow to hit anything within me. Fortunately things improve from here with two songs that come in three-quarter time. These Are My Things and We Write The Ghost Stories both come in this for rock music unusual measure. Both have a certain circus or cabaret flair, showing what Danny Elfman would sound like if he wrote prog rock instead of movie soundtracks. No Landís Man takes the music back into more typical melodic prog rock territory, before the album ends on another long track with the ten and a half minute long Stars Along The Way.

At first I had my problems getting into this debut album by Pattern-Seeking Animals. Only the longer songs made sense to me, while most of the shorter material seemed just too trite. Repeated listening showed me that apart from two tracks that are just too sweet for their own good, the material featured here is actually quite good. A little tame at times, I have to admit, but otherwise a more than pleasant first effort that shows that these guys can survive just as well outside of Spockís Beard.

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