It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so bear with me. Porcupine Tree is one of those bands that is a gem in a field of rocks. They have been there for a long time, since 1989, under the radar. With Deadwing, they have gained some more recognition, but more for their name (people are constantly telling me “what a stupid name") and the hard-rock edge of “Shallow" that is even played here in Arkansas, where I live. But if you look at the history of the band, you will see that they started off with heavy prog influences and then, as they progressed as a band and especially Steven Wilson, they have grown into a band with powerful songs and great lyrics, compared to their early days of more ambient sounds and instrumentals. To see them progress from On the Sunday Side of Life to Deadwing, its really amazing. With Stupid Dream, they turned towards the format they are using to this day.
Lightbulb Sun is the band truly polishing this format and is an amazing prelude to the greatness of In Absentia. They produced some of the greatest songs ever written and truly show their talent on this album. Everyone in the band is on the mark, especially Steven Wilson, who really shined on this, in my opinion. His playing is great and even better, his voice is truly beautiful and his lyrics are right on the mark. Why this album didn’t get the success it deserved is beyond me. This is original drummer Chris Maitland’s last outing before leaving the band and being replaced by Gavin Harrison. Chris really does a great job on this album as do Richard and Colin. Steven is really the most honest with himself and is on the top of his game.
The2Stranger summed it up in his review of Stupid Dream: Porcupine tree was founded in 1987 by vocalist/ multi instrumentalist Steven Wilson.
It was his own made up project to explore psychedelic and progressive music.
After gaining more success, Steven Wilson decided to replace the drum computer with a real drummer, and that he would give the bass guitar out of hand and most of the synthesizer and keyboard parts to his new keyboardist.
Steven focused on guitar, vocals and lyrics, but is still the thriving force behind Porcupine Tree.
Anyway, on to the review.
Porcupine Tree is:
Richard Barbieri: Analogue Synthesizers, Hammond organ, Mellotron.
Colin Edwin: Bass Guitar.
Chris Maitland: Drums and Percussion.
Steven Wilson: Vocals, Guitars, Piano.
Now on to this amazing album:
1.Lightbulb Sun – The title track is a great start. Some soft acoustic work that is a great riff, then breaks into a harder rock with a strong bass line by Colin. The song is about being sick and trying to feel better. It has one of the best chorus’ “My head beats a better way/Tomorrow’s a better day". Great song, one of my fave’s. Steven’s voice on it is really awesome. 5/5
2.How is Your Life Today? – Quite a contrast from Lightbulb Sun. No rhythm section…pretty much all Barbieri. Heavy piano, with some ambient noise later on. I can’t really describe this song unless to say its very British, if that makes any sense :). I think Steven’s voice is really beautiful on this track, but it doesn’t really measure up to the rest of the album, or really fit in. I give it a 3/5
3.Four Chords that Made a Million – A great song that I overlooked when I first got this album. Its really rocking with some weird effects on the guitar. The Indian drums in the beginning are really great. The song is one of the more rocking tracks, more like something you want to hear live. I think it’s a great song. 4/5
4.She’s Moved On – This is one of those songs that is really weird, but it draws you in. I think the thing that stands out most for me is Steven’s vocal pattern and how it matches the guitar very well on the verses. I love the harmonies on the Chorus and through the whole song. You want to hear Steven singing amazing, check this song out. I love his guitar as well, great solo. 4/5
5.Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It is Recycled – An interesting track. It’s a 2 parter, the first part is called “Winding Shot". It reminds me of a CSN song a lot. Some great banjo playing and a strange sound on the bass, perhaps he is playing on a stand up. My favorite line is “It's just you and me alone/Not grown ups but not kids/You kissed me on the lips". The rest on the song sounds more like just a jam song. Different but I like it! 3.5/5
6.Rest Will Flow – This is my favorite song on the album and the most poppy. I think the symphonic sounds Barbieri uses and Chris’ drums I find really tight. I love the line “Stay with me my angel/I found you/Now I don’t Feel Low". A catchy love song that really just resonates with me very well. Very catchy, I think it’s a must for anyone listening to the album. 5/5
7.Hatesong – Great opening bassline by Colin, really carries the whole song. The harmonics and ascending scales are great fills. Drums come in brilliantly and Steven’s lament is purely…well, Steven. I think it’s a great song and kinda just cool to listen to. 4/5
8.Where We Would Be – The Coldplay track, what I like to call it. An awesome love song with great some echoing percussion. Steven’s voice is really just beautiful on this track with a powerful guitar solo which, I think is great, but I kinda wish they just kept it with the acoustic. But, still, its well placed and heart-felt, like a solo should. Another one of my favorites. 5/5
9.Russia on Ice – The longest track on the album at 13:02. The most prog-ish track on the album. I love the lines “Can't stop myself drinking/Can't stop being me/If I call will you come and will you save me ?" I really like it, but I think the end part of the song, like Last Chance is an instrumental and kinda drags out for my liking. Its still pretty rocking though, it’s a good listen. Another one of them just jamming, which I really like. I give it a 4/5
10.Feel So Low – A simple song with nothing really special. The worst song on the album, almost filler, but I really like how honest and powerful Steven’s words. Anyone whose ever been brushed off would appreciate the song, but its nothing like the rest of the album. I give a 2.5/5
Overall, I think it’s an amazing album and for me, it is up there with In Absentia for their best work. Definately a 4.5/5 if not perfect.The band is really tight and Steven’s vocals are just simply beautiful. I love having this album on all the time and I hope this review has made you want to go listen to it again or for the first time. Thank You :)