Pattern-Seeking Animals consists of current and former members of Spock’s Beard: Ted Leonard, Jimmy Keegan, and Dave Meros, together with longtime Spock’s Beard contributer John Boegehold. Fans of Spock’s Beard have likely seen John’s name on liner notes and heard his contributions over the last few years, but Pattern-Seeking Animals is an opportunity for John to assume a more active role as both a writer and a contributing musician.
New projects sometimes come with growing pains, but there is a noticeable level of comfort on this album, in the writing and sound. Rich Mouser, trusted audio engineer for Spock’s Beard, creates an extremely well balanced mix, giving each of these tremendously talented musicians their moments to shine through.
In normal circumstances, “No Burden Left to Carry” would be a bold opener, due to its length and complexity, but in the world of progressive rock, it fits right in. This song is a great introduction to the band- both familiar and new, with strong melodies and hooks and cool instrumentation.
“No One Ever Died and Made Me King” is an excellent showcase of this new project, with a solid, groovy riff that is reminiscent of the rock and roll of the 60s and 70s, but in an odd-time meter. The melodies are infectious, and everyone shines, both individually and as a group. The complexity of the song never gets in the way of hook or melody or chorus.
I feel like Dave Meros and Jimmy Keegan have more than proven themselves with both their work in Spock’s Beard and other highly acclaimed projects, so their work is predictably top notch in Pattern-Seeking Animals. They make a formidable rhythm section, with Rutheford-Collins-esque synchronicity. Jimmy’s drumming is equally tasteful and complex, and Dave’s bass lines seem to always be what the moment needs, always with his monstrous tone and melodic, Chris Squire-esque playing.
Ted has always impressed me with his vocals, as he possesses a rare gift of range and power. I’ve been a fan since I first heard Enchant over 20 years ago. Ted, however, shines as the sole guitarist for this project. His tasty solos and powerful tone give him an opportunity to showcase his skills. John Boegehold also more than impresses with his synth work.
Although the sonic similarities to Ted Leonard-era Spock’s Beard are present and undeniable, Pattern-Seeking Animals has enough variety and personality to distinguish it from Spock’s. It’s also refreshing to have a modern progressive group that is more in the Tears For Fears-ish, intelligent, pop oriented prog (or should I say, prog oriented pop?) vein. A good progressive rock song follows the same rules as a good song- it’s gotta be catchy, interesting, and memorable. And Pattern-Seeking Animals’ debut record is all of those things, and more. Pattern-Seeking Animals is an album that is highly complex and clever but also quite accessible. Overall, it’s a solid debut from a project that I hope we will get to see more of in the future.
Pattern-Seeking Animals will release their debut album on July 5, 2019. Pre-order it here.