Review Summary: Could it be that we’re all connected in this epic dream called life?
Music trends can sometimes be annoying; I sometimes feel that they put a crutch on creativity. You come home from a long day of work or a recent college course only to open up your internet browser and find out that an album is being greatly overrated for its time. Hype is dangerous and thus we must be careful when we see it lurking in the shadows. It’s constantly trying to convince us that the latest product is eternal, that each track will hold a constant replay value despite the passage of time. There’s probably been a time when you picked up an album (or digitally pirated online) thinking that it was going to be the greatest piece of composed sound your ears could ever have the grace of experiencing. A couple of months pass and your online friends see you change your rating on this “prized jewel” from a five to a three. You’ve courageously accepted during this time period that hype had destroyed your musical integrity and now you have somehow managed to pull forth a moment of forgiveness. Now I hope you don’t go to the extreme of going to your local rabbi or minister to confess what you’ve done, but proceed to take those drastic measures if needed. You now must deal with the constant threat of your online peers now that your musical integrity has been reestablished. Perhaps they will come to your profile and slowly begin typing on their keyboards as they move in for the troll. “Hey Jarred, I thought you said that this album was golden material. What’s up with the three stars now?” Your inner conscience tells you to be patient for you know that if you are to respond to this comment then a large cluster of insignificant thoughts from other members on your respective music site will then commence.
So why would an independent group such as The Pineapple Thief be worthy of the golden status? It’s hard to define an album as flawless. I think that there are some points on every incredible album where you feel the artist could have improved in the respective area or maybe it’s just that your own imagination of how one of the tracks should have ended doesn’t agree with reality and how the select track actually closed out. You probably wanted that waning guitar at the conclusion of chosen song to end several seconds earlier (it could very well be that a nice drum loop may have been preferred). That to me is the greatness of human imagination; we can look outside and imagine a bunch of women getting dirty for us in a grass field even though reality states that this exact terrain is actually filled up with a bunch of boring and dull trees. I want to introduce a similar artist while we’re still on the topic of trees and human creativity. Steven Wilson and the rest of Porcupine Tree would almost seem to have greatly influenced the style and musical tone of The Pineapple Thief yet one would actually find it shocking to know that the two groups never actually had any previous contact with each other until recently.
It’s almost appalling to consider that this album was put together around the same time that In Absentia was racking up album sales and yet The Pineapple Thief had no knowledge of it. Two groups completely independent of each other somehow developed a disturbingly congruent sound. In some respects “Variations on a Dream” almost seems to mimic various parts of “In Absentia”. This actually bothered me to the point where I knew that research needed to be done. It really is astonishing to know, but if you looked into the eyes of PT’s vocalist in that video you would genuinely say that he was telling the truth. Let me define my meaning of what truth meant for me in this particular context though as the word is often abused too often without haste. The vocalist for Puddle of Mudd didn’t seem to have the same genuine honesty when asked about the Nirvana comparisons. You could almost see the guilt and ill intentions to make money off of an impersonated style (I’ve additionally read that he’s not too good with his fans but I’ll leave that for the reader to decide). I actually have a great deal of respect for the members of The Pineapple Thief by contrast. Some of the lyrical content on this album had me proposing some fairly interesting notions about life in general as I was riding down the road. I truly enjoy the tranquility of the track “The Bitter Pill” with its accompanying lyrical structures.
And time stands still, oh no,
A bitter pill, we know,
And never fill, this hole
And yeah, we’ll breath again, with you
In the end (The Bitter Pill)
There was something about the calm pianos that tackle your ears down to the pavement on this track that almost felt otherworldly. I’m not a big fan of psychedelic drugs, but I’ve got to imagine that the effects of them would actually be appropriate to comprehend the true musical value of what’s going on here (I’m not suggesting that you go take a dose of whatever drug x is, I’m just saying that it might enhance the euphoria of the moment). “Remember Us” displays another memorable track of mellow thoughts and continues the ambition of provoking the listener's imagination. In all fairness this isn’t the most aggressive of The Pineapple Thief’s work; some of their later projects feature more guitar work and less emphasis on a piano influenced style. This is the one album in their discography that I feel you could fall asleep too (consider the album title though, we’re not exactly dealing with a title like “Saint Anger”). I feel that while this is likely the mellowest of all their projects, it still has a certain poise and drive that I always seem to compare to “In Absentia”. The lighter and more slower parts of that album seem to be fairly congruent with the style utilized on this project which provides me with a fair understanding of why some critics would be justified in saying that the style might have been copied. Just consider that some of us might be on the same wave of thought at different points in our life. Perhaps Porcupine Tree and The Pineapple Thief were surfing the same wavelength of the universe at that critical point in both of their careers. Could it be that we’re all just connected in this epic dream we call life?