Steven Wilson
Hand. Cannot. Erase.


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (132 Reviews)
March 7th, 2015 | 967 replies


Release Date: 03/03/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Onward.

In a perfect world, there should come a time where he or she must decide whether or not to continue making music or just to leave well enough alone. After a while, a musician could easily run out of things to say in their art. This seemingly happened to Steven Wilson with Porcupine Tree because of how polarizing The Incident was. It was certainly an enjoyable record that contained its fair share of gems, but it really made the listener wonder whether or not the front man's ideas had started to run dry. Recently, Wilson himself put to rest the rumors of a new Porcupine Tree record with little to no plans of returning to the band and this is probably a good thing. Now, Steven is moving onward and somewhat upward with his well-received solo work. While his previous solo album proved to be a bit of a tribute to 70s progressive music, Hand Cannot Erase combined the 70s sound with the likes of a more pop driven atmosphere with occasional electronic elements thrown in. Even though this concept is nothing new, the man pulls this off extremely well and it makes for quite the upbeat listening experience.

Right off the bat, the record gives off the vibe of having a refreshing genre combination consisting of pop and progressive rock. The pleasant piano melody in “First Regret” serves as a solid introduction that runs into “3 Years Older,” which features a plethora of styles that includes the poppy melodies, progressive instrumentation and even a little glimpse of Wilson’s past works. In addition to this, the fantastic guitar playing often associated with Wilson's work thankfully remains ever so intact. While the aspect of 70s music is still a bit apparent, Wilson without a doubt brings his music into the present this time due to the added electronic elements, as well as some other modern styles. The title track, while admittedly nothing more than a standard pop rock track, adds on synth drums in the beginning and turns into what is certainly the catchiest song of the album due to a chorus that gets into the listener’s head. The track's overwhelmingly poppy nature will undoubtedly turn some off, but its undeniably uplifting guitar work proves to be hard to resist. In addition to the synths in the title track, album highlight “Perfect Life” introduces a more atmospheric mood, with spoken word female vocals and mesmerizing drumming in the beginning. It places more of an emphasis on the pop aspect of the record and the listener will find that the two styles of progressive rock and pop blend quite nicely throughout the whole record.

Meanwhile, more album highlights like “Regret #9” and “Ancestral” really drives home this combination even more. “Regret #9” features Steven’s immense talent at the helm of the guitar to great effect. While this track certainly displays a more progressive light as a whole, “Ancestral” easily combines the two, with the beginning adding in intriguing synths and Wilson’s solid vocal melodies. However, it soon builds into a frenzy of vocal harmonies, incredible musicianship and one fantastic guitar riff after another. It’s yet another testament to how great of a musician Wilson proves to be, as well as his undeniable song writing ability.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of Hand Cannot Erase that really impresses happens to be how it shows off all of the musical sides of Steven Wilson. Whether it be his heavier side, more psychedelic side, poppier side or atmospheric side, it truly is a culmination of all of Wilson’s work, Porcupine Tree and all. Even though it may not necessarily be his best work exactly, this album certainly proves how the man can easily hold his own as a solo artist. To top it all off, his vocal and lyrical work has also improved, which has always been a common criticism of his work as a whole. What it really comes down to is that Hand Cannot Erase is an exceptional progressive rock/pop record and while it may occasionally exhibit the sound of his previous band, it definitely soars high in regards having his own voice. Wilson has expressed that he strives to move onward and probably never look back to his past. Judging from how impressive his new work is, he has already started to accomplish this.



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user ratings (840)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Ben Kuettel STAFF (4)
    A modern concept brought to life by an impressively effective mix of accessibility and com...

    Alex Kugaczewski (4.5)
    For the first time in years, Wilson seems free of King Crimson prog worship, finally stret...

    tef (5)
    Wilson's second masterpiece in a row. Proving once and for all that he is one of the most ...

    Joanna van Schaik (4.5)
    Steven Wilson's solo career's magnum opus...

  • PsychicChris (4.5)
    Not only his best solo album but it just might be one of the best he's ever recorded...

    Mythodea (4.5)
    I took all of it and threw it on a canvas – what do you think?...

    Scott M. Baldwin (4.5)
    A love like this makes us strong....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2015


18465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sup guys. As always any critiques are welcome.



This record rules so hard.

LordePots
March 7th 2015


37167 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

alb sucks harder than new bjork even

Digging: Bearcubs - Underwaterfall

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2015


32190 Comments


After a while, a musician could easily ran out of things to say in their art.


*could easily run

or

*can easily run

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2015


18465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh nice catch Dev thanks.

KerfuffleinaHussle
March 7th 2015


1033 Comments


"...Wilson’s past works. In addition to this, his fantastic guitar playing thankfully remains ever so intact"

Idk if you're aware but that's Guthrie Govan, not Steven, playing lead guitar on this album (and Raven). He's one of those turbo-speed shredders like Malmsteen or whatever.

Ive yet to listen to this. I really wasnt a fan of Raven, but this does sound promising. Bit more variation, bit more identity, I hope.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2015


18465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh damn really? I'll change that around then. Silly me to not research that.

Friday13th
March 7th 2015


5729 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice. I'm digging it. I will say the t/t isn't just a "simple pop rock track" rhythmically. It's basically in 9/8 time (or 3 measures of 3/4 depending on how you count).

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2015


18465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well yea I just meant as a whole. Besides that it really is nothing more than a catchy pop song.

KerfuffleinaHussle
March 7th 2015


1033 Comments


"Oh damn really? I'll change that around then. Silly me to not research that."

Yeah. I kinda wish Wilson would still play some solos though. I like his more reserved style.

Friday13th
March 7th 2015


5729 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Mongi pretty much yeah just thought it was interesting. I've written a few songs with that rhythm and would hate for people to overlook it when I went out of my way to be proggy! lol

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2015


18465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea I'm far from being an authority on rhythms so my b haha

Onirium
March 7th 2015


3032 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

He doesn't play that much with rythms on this album though

Friday13th
March 7th 2015


5729 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ancestral goes nuts but yeah not much

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2015


18465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks a lot dude! Certainly changed a few of the things you said.

LordePots
March 7th 2015


37167 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

raven was good, this guy should stick to 70's prog worship. if this was a 3 song ep of tracks 7-9 this would be a solid 3.2/5

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2015


15563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4 | Sound Off

Way to stop mine from being the default ;) but seriously good review, mind pos

Digging: Paramore - After Laughter

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2015


18465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea you've had enough power for one day ;) thanks dude haha

Friday13th
March 7th 2015


5729 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Alright, ya'll win. All reservations aside, this is great.

tommygun
March 7th 2015


26497 Comments


mongi do you proofread your stuff before posting?

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2015


15563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4 | Sound Off

I'm guessing no



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