Review Summary: It doesn’t get much better than this.
It’s been a long four year wait for New Jersey-septet Thank You Scientist’s follow-up to the beautiful ‘Maps of Non-Existent Places’. It’s blend of progressive rock and jazz brought forth a free-flowing and catchy album full of fun and memorable songs. Blood on the Radio
’s sprawling violins and trumpets and groovy bass line was a highlight, as too was the instrumental track Suspicious Waveforms
and its sections of pure solo bliss for every instrument. And if Stranger Heads Prevail
proves anything, it’s that the band aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
Opening track Prologue…A Faint Applause
starts much like their debut, with Salvatore Marrano’s vocals soothing us immediately. However, the track is strung along by prominent layers of violin, all masterfully played by Ben Karas. Far more intricate than previous efforts, it ebbs and flows wonderfully, leading well into The Somnambulist
. The five-minute track is standard Thank You Scientist, but what’s most noticeable is the production; all instruments weave together wonderfully and nothing feels overproduced or cluttered. Salvatore is clear as day, as too is the always-catchy guitar work from Tom Monda. Follow-up track Caverns
opens with a well-worked guitar melody that riffs with the instrumentals, particularly as the first verse hits. The song-writing is tight as ever; the song stops for a brief moment at the four-minute mark, transitioning into a completely different song filled with fast drum beats from Odin Alvarez and guitar lines before a shredding guitar solo to lead the song into its finale.
Of course, Thank You Scientist would be nothing without its instrumentals; Ben Karas on violin, Ellis Jasenovic on saxophone and Andrew Digirus on trumpet all play pivotal roles in keeping songs fresh and exciting. Their use in the intros of Mr. Invisible
and A Wolf in Cheap Clothing
shows the tightened songwriting TYS have improved on since ‘Maps of Non-Existent Places’. The bass work from Cody McCory is also nothing to pass over; his presence on Blue Automatic
and Need More Input
is pivotal, and meshes well particularly with the trumpet, saxophone and violin work. What’s most important, however, is that Thank You Scientist haven’t forgotten how to have fun. Rube Goldberg Variations
is a nine-minute excuse for every instrument to groove. Much like Suspicious Waveforms
, the band take turns letting loose whilst also not overstaying their welcome. The one-and-a-half minute trumpet solo is beautifully executed, as is the violin-bass solos that occur back-to-back. Follow-up track Psychopomp
is also an eccentric example of the band’s spark, with a heavy use of guitar pedals and a loud bass line that maintains a heavy presence throughout.
And ever after this 60+ minute record, you want to go back and start it all over again. The tight songwriting, although perhaps not as catchy as their debut, brings forth a myriad of ideas that all mesh so incredibly well. What appears to be a mess of instruments on paper turns into pure bliss full of flowing violin, upbeat saxophone and trumpet, layered vocals and guitars, and memorable drum work. And considering how incredible their debut was, Thank You Scientist have created their best album yet, and you’d have to think it doesn’t get much better than this.
The Best Four:
- Rube Goldberg Variations
- The Somnambulist