Review Summary: Equally thrilling and innovative, this is a major contender for the progressive album of the year.
As reliable as they might have been, The Pineapple Thief led by Bruce Soord have always presented a highly derivative brand of progressive rock. Their influences also seemed easy to trace on their last critically acclaimed album, Tightly Unwound. Released two years ago disc was an intricate love letter to their fellow English peers: Porcupine Tree and Radiohead. While these acts' features are still occasionally a part of the new album's soundscape, Soord finally manages to pull off a number of innovations that help to create the unique plethora of sound. "Someone Here Is Missing" cohesively showcases his new vision of music making for an album that stands as a testimony to its very own kind of progressiveness. Most tracks don't even eclipse the 5-minute mark, yet they often pack more ideas than the sprawling epics of their contemporaries. The ingenious compositions are supported by the supreme production that requires a proper stereo system to truly appreciate.
The influences are diverse to say the least, but the two additions to The Pineapple Thief's dreamy progressive style happen to be revolutionary. The daring use of electronica seems particularly striking from the get-go. "Nothing At Best" is an overall catchy rocker filled with synthesizers that along with robust guitars and dynamic rhythm section create an unconventional type of attact. For a change, "Wake Up The Dead" starts with ominously dark beat resembling Nine Inch Nails. The old prog fans might be disgusted, yet the composition effectively builds to a wall-of-sound climax not unlike the majority of songs collected here. The other notable reinvention involves the guitarwork. Soord opts for energetic metallic riffs more often than ever before. They may be very direct and catchy as hell like in the album's most condensed song, "Show A Little Love" or impressively sawing like in the epic "Preperation For Meltdown." Bassist Jon Sykes doesn't fall behind as his bass lines superbly chug around heavy guitar chords and swelling keyboards in "3000 Days" to give an example.
The only musical aspect that remains unchanged is Soord's vocal delivery. Although his emotive work channels both Tom Yorke and Steven Wilson in equal measure, it always feels genuine. As the title suggests, lyrically "Someone Here Is Missing" is a record about break-up. The gloomy state of mind associated with a failed relationship is illustrated by the most mellow and conventional tracks on the album. Both "The State We're In" and "Barely Breathing" are good renditions of Radioheadesque melancholy. Not being entirely homogenous with the full-fledged experimental style of the album, they also don't stand the comparison with album's more complex compositions. In this field, the last two tracks especially push the envelope. Alluding to the time of the band's existance "3000 Days" is an amazing excercise in the use of dynamics incorporating some of the heaviest traits of earlier compositions, whereas tremendous "So We Row" utilizes its simple leading motif so as to achieve a brilliantly psychedelic effect.
According to Bruce Soord, "Someone Here Is Missing" is "a record of dark edges full of love and regret...my life in the last eighteen months, pretty much." It strucks as unexpected that his painful experience translates into the band's most stellar and fully realized work to date. It's a masterly conceived album that, while heading for clever songwriting tactiques, doesn't neglect the band's trademark melancholy and raw emotions that permeate from every track. Equally thrilling and innovative, this is a major contender for the progressive album of the year.