Thirteen is considered by people the world over for some reason. This is the case even despite the complete lack of any scientific evidence to prove that the number thirteen has any negative paranormal power. Keeping this in mind, Spock’s Beard’s thirteenth album Noise Floor proves to be a record that doesn’t need any luck to succeed. Released just this past Friday, May 25, the album proves to be its own lucky charm for the band. That is proven early on in the album’s run in ‘What Becomes of Me.’ It will be discussed shortly. The album’s single ‘Somebody’s Home,’ which also comes early in the album’s run, also serves to support that statement. The same can be said of ‘Bulletproof,’ which is included in the record’s second disc. Each song shows in its own way what makes Noise Floor another strong effort from the veteran progressive rock outfit. When they are joined with the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is a work that is certain to impress the band’s longtime fans and prog rock fans in general.
Noise Floor, the 13th full-length studio recording from veteran progressive rock band Spock’s Beard, is a record that, simply put, succeeds not on luck, but on the positive of its own merits. This is proven time and again throughout the course of its 12-song, 69-minute double-disc album. ‘What Becomes Of Me’ is just one example of what makes Noise Floor a solid new offering from the band. That is due at least in part to the song’s musical arrangement. Its bass guitar-driven arrangement lends itself (at least in this critic’s ears) to certain arrangements from fellow famed progressive rock band Rush. More specifically, the addition of its guitar line lends the song even more to comparisons with works from Rush’s 1993 album Counterparts. Again, that is in the ears of this critic alone. What’s really interesting here is that a close listen reveals something in the final bars of the song’s “A” section that sounds like it belongs on a James Bond movie’s soundtrack. Random though, yes, but at least this critic noticed that sound. Now having noted all of this, the song’s musical side is only one part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical content adds to its depth just as much as its musical arrangement. The song’s lyrical theme here comes across (again, to this critic alone) as someone speaking to another person through a letter, telling a story of sorts. That is inferred as front man Ted Leonard sings in the song’s lead verse, “When you get this message/I’m miles away, I’m leaving/But I still have so much to say/So, please keep on reading/’Cause when I slip…commit these bones to soil/A legacy of dust/A ghost I’ll remain/What becomes of me/Another trip around the sun/The righteous race has just begun/We crawl, we walk and then we run, and maybe fly/Yes, I could rule the world/And face the competition/Even if the path was clear/I don’t share that envision/You won’t see me circle back/But it’s not grace I lack/A requiem…to close the book of days…another trip around the sun/The righteous race has just begun…” It’s almost as if the speaker is telling what became of him and what type of person he was. The whole matter of the “trip around the sun” and the “race” having “just begun” comes across as retrospective in nature. That would seem to go in line with the rest of the song’s lyrics, in which the subject seems to sing about his own personal journey. Of course, that could all be wrong, and is only the interpretation of this critic. Either way, the song presents an interesting story that regardless of its theme (and because of it), makes it stand out even more. Going full circle, when it is coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, the joining of the elements is certain to keep listeners fully engaged. Keeping all of this in mind, this song proves to be only one of the album’s most standout entries. ‘Somebody’s Home’ is another standout addition to the album.
‘Somebody’s Home’ stands out in part due to its musical arrangement, which is another piece that – as others have noted – is a little bit heavier than that for which the band has come to be known. That’s at least the case in the choruses. The verses meanwhile present something a little more familiar thanks to the cellos and keyboards. Lyrically, the song is sure to pique listeners’ interest just as much as Leonard sings, “At the gae, but missed the gun/I can’t start, but I’m not done/Fortune never smiled at me/It left me on my own/Someone cracked/The hour glass/Shattered time and scattered dust/Set in stone/You can’t uncast/The die once thrown/And I’m in here/With the blinds all drawn/I can hear you/But I can’t respond/though the lights/Are off/And don’t give up/’Cause somebody’s home.” This comes across a little more clearly than the lyrical theme at the center of ‘What Becomes of Me.’ It comes across as a positive message that while things have been bad, the song’s subject is there and is listening to someone who is going through a rough time. This is especially proven as Leonard sings, “Don’t give up on me/I see more than you think I see.” This is someone who wants another to know he/she is there for that person. It’s an interesting, positive message that, when coupled with the song’s moving, almost 80s rock style musical arrangement, shows even more clearly why this song is another of Noise Floor’s key moments. It is not the last of the record’s key moments, either. ‘Bulletproof’ is yet another key addition to Noise Floor.
‘Bulletproof’ stands out because its arrangement stands distinctly apart from the arrangements in ‘Somebody’s Home,’ ‘What Becomes of Me’ and the rest of the album’s songs. As was noted by John Boegehold in a documentary about the song, his aim was to create a song whose arrangement was distinctly similar to the Motown sounds of old. That sound is clear in the piano-driven arrangement. It also lives up to Leonard’s recent statement that the band is “about evolution, not revolution.” That’s because it shows the band’s growth yet again. The song’s lyrical side shows its own share of growth from the band. That is evident as Leonard sings here about making the most in life despite the negative times. This is inferred as he sings, “I woke up on a sunny day/the rain’s a million miles away/I’m gonna run down the horse…gonna pound on the walls till the ghosts come out/when I come to the roof/Let them take their aim/’Cause I’m bulletproof.” This is all despite the song’s subject having lived “up, but mostly down.” This is an uplifting message that is certain to have a lasting impact on any listener. That is especially the case when this message is coupled with the song’s moving musical arrangement. The partnering of those two elements makes this song stand out just as much as ‘Somebody’s Home’ and ‘What Becomes of Me’ without just rehashing those songs at the same time. To that end, it’s one more way in which Noise Floor proves to be more than just a bunch of *ahem* noise from Spock’s Beard. Rather, it proves to be a record – considering those tracks and the rest of the album’s entries – that is certain to appeal to Spock’s Beard fans across the board as much as it will progressive rock fans in general.
Spock’s Beard’s latest full-length studio recording Noise Floor – the band’s 13th album – is a record that succeeds easily more on its own merits than on any level of luck. That is proven early on in the seemingly Rush-inspired song ‘What Becomes of Me’ and its thought-provoking story. It is proven just as easily through the album’s single ‘Somebody’s Home,’ which is sure to inspire just as much as it is to entertain. The same can be said of ‘Bulletproof,’ which offers its own moving musical and lyrical presentation. When these songs are set alongside the rest of the album’s entries, they make the whole of Noise Floor much more than just a bunch of noise, but rather noise that is a welcome listening experience for SB fans and prog-rock fans alike. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Noise Floor is available online now along with all of Spock’s Beard’s latest news and more at:
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