Where to start with an album like this? A little bit tricky. There’s a temptation to lay in to it for promoting idiocracy, given the near stupidity of the lyrics. But there’s a nagging doubt. Given the utter garbage of the meanings of the songs you begin to wonder if that’s the response Steve Thorne is trying to provoke. Perhaps he is pointing out the stupidities that we hear so frequently on the news and within social media and then moving them along quite a bit. Steve launches tirades against scientists, delves into cognitive dissonance, promotes long held boring conspiracy theories about the falsehood of the moon landings, even against heliocentrism, which was first postulated in the third century BC by Aristarchus of Samos, and proven by a string of scientists from the Renaissance initially Copernicus, then Galileo and a host of others such as Herschel, Newton and right on to the present day. Not believing in it would be like not believing in gravity, or indeed x-rays if you needed one. There are few albums that can make Tales From Topographic Oceans seem rational, but this is one.
Steve says; “If the lyrical subject matter of this album upsets, triggers, threatens or offends you, I’m afraid you, as once did I, have a common and widespread problem known as “cognitive dissonance” and are, unknowingly a member, as I was of the largest religious belief cult ever devised by human beings on earth known as “Scientism” or, more accurately, “Heliocentrism”.”
This is actually Steve’s sixth album, going back to 2005’s Emotional Creatures: Part One, and one of the few not to have an extensive guest list. Previous releases have featured Tony Levin, Geoff Downes, Gary Chandler, Nick D’Virgilio, and Gavin Harrison amongst a host of others. On this release the list is much simpler. Steve Thorne plays most of the instruments, along with drummer Kyle Fenton (Cosmograf) and lead guitar parts played by local artist Geoff Lea. Which is pretty minimal for Thorne.
Musically, we are on familiar ground for Steve. He has his own style, which tends to be at the poppier end of what is considered neo-prog, though with hints of Peter Gabriel and even Pink Floyd here and there. There are similarities with the early work of Fish too, particularly on World Salad Surgery. Generally, they are well written and produced tunes with a pop sensibility in their execution. The melodies are well done, and given a choral effect at times which adds to the power of the songs. Monkey Business is a little Beatlesque, perhaps with a Brit-pop filter.
Overall then, this is a fine album, but you cannot ignore the glaring lyrics. Steve Thorne himself acknowledges that fact; “The album is sure to challenge pretty much everybody lyrically with its controversial subject matter!” This is not an album that is easy to sit through in a single sitting because of that. The annoyance value is far too high. If someone isn’t jokingly making a point, then someone needs help urgently. Just don’t ask a doctor. They’re scientists you know.
1. Little Boat (Part I) (2:05)
2. He Who Pays The Piper (9:24)
3. Rainy Day In New York (5:19)
4. Waking Up (5:19)
5. Word Salad Surgery (5:41)
6. Psalm 2.0 (5:05)
7. The Fourth Wall (3:54)
8. Monkey Business (4:47)
9. Waves (5:07)
10. I Won’t Forsake Truth (4:56)
11. Little Boat (Part II) (2:16)
Steve Thorne / instruments, vocals
Geoff Lea / lead guitar
Kyle Fenton / drums
Record Label: White Knight Records
Released: February 2, 2020