Review Summary: Steven Wilson is a madman.
And I do mean that in a good way. Just one listen to Porcupine Tree's debut and it's clear that Steven Wilson has a mind of his own. One minute he is a cutesy mad hatter singing songs about a wonderland full of pleasures ("Jupiter Island"), next he's singing about a town being bombed out by an atomic bomb ("Radioactive Toy"). He has a voice that's suited to any style of music, and while it isn't a great voice, it suits the pure madness of the music.
On the Sunday of Life...
technically isn't an album. It's more of a collection of demo tapes by Steven Wilson when he formed Porcupine Tree as a joke, so as a result, it's a bit all over the place. Nonetheless it's a fun listen, if you choose to listen to it in one sitting. It's admittedly kind of long, inconsistent, and there's a lot of tracks that are just musical masturbation and wouldn't be much good on their own, but as a whole, there's nothing like it. There's many different styles on the album, which keeps it fun to listen to. At one time it's funny, another it's sad, another it' scary... it's wonderful.
The best songs are ultimately in the second half of the album- but that's not to say the first half is in any way dull. Most of the filler is in the first half, but it's eclipsed by "Jupiter Island", which sounds like a mix of Pink Floyd and The Cure, and the other songs, "The Nostalgia Factory", "Space Transmission", "Radioactive Toy" and "Nine Cats". The best of these is ultimately the spoken word piece "Space Transmission", a horrifyingly disturbing and frightful tune about a man stuck on a planet, planning his escape and subsequent revenge. "While I was on this planet, he said, 'God, why do they worship you instead of me?'
" and that's just one of the many lines that stick out. The transition between it, "Message From a Self Destructing Parsnip" and "Radioactive Toy" is just brilliant too.
The latter half, though, has some of the Tree's best work. The hilarious "Linton Samuel Dawson" is like a song by The Cure sped up, and the lyrics are quite nonsensical, but the sped-up voice is just hilarious and makes the delivery all worth it. And probably one of my favourite songs of all time, "And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun", worth a mention too. The song is catchy and upbeat and it sounds like it wouldn't be out of place in "Trainspotting", as it does have a poppy vibe to it. And the final track, the eleven minute "It Will Rain For A Million Years" closes out the album on a grand note. The song is one note the whole time and has a beautiful tribal vibe to it, with lyrics about a man escaping earth as it begins to flood. It's hauntingly beautiful, and will remain etched in your mind long after the CD player has been turned off.
On the Sunday of Life...
is 72 minutes of pure trippiness, and is the perfect album to chill out to. It is only just the first of an amazing career by Wilson, but it's the album I will automatically refer to when I need to just chill the hell out. It isn't for everyone, and some may find it pretentious- it's also not the best indicator of how you'll like the Tree, but it will truly chill you out, and take you to plenty of landscapes made possible by the pure, unique mind of Steven Wilson.