Review Summary: Beautiful, serene, haunting. This is The Pineapple Thief's masterpiece.
The Pineapple Thief have often been slated for taking a heavy amount of influence from Porcupine Tree
, another British prog band operating around the same time, however a little research reveals that Bruce Soord (Thief
's lead vocalist and songwriter) was entirely unaware of Porcupine Tree until Steven Wilson contacted him in question of how similar their sounds were (the two became friends and Wilson helped bring the band onto the Kscope label, a huge step up from Cyclops).
This album then, is a natural progression for the band and is what they had been working towards all that time since their inception in 1999.
From the first fifteen seconds of the first song, Dead in the Water
, you know this isn't going to be typical modern prog rock - it begins with seemingly random sounds of amplifier feedback which develops into a beat, eventually followed by an acoustic guitar. Throughout the whole album, the band makes unconventional use of their instruments, from the atmospheric and vibrato guitars to Keith Harrison's truly exceptional drumming, played to a backdrop of drawn out violin and keyboard work. The still, empty, icy musical landscape that this creates is perfectly captured in the Kscope remaster artwork (there's even more brilliant photography in the booklet):
This is for listening to when you are relaxed and calm, but with a bittersweet taste in your mouth. It's one of those albums that only fits those unusual moods and requires several listens before you can truly appreciate it but when you do, your mind will be blown.
Another triumph is its use of simplistic but effective lyrics to convey themes of loss and death, often linked to what appears to be Soord's grief for a brother or son lost in a miscarriage. This style is something that Bruce has always tried to use and replicate, most notably on All the Wars
' "Give it Back" where it fails horribly. One of Little Man
's most emotional tracks (but also structurally, weakest - it starts abruptly and doesn't seem to progress as much as the others, but is still a good track) is the title track:
There was no warning sign,
The wounds won't heal in time,
There's nowhere we will go,
Without you, you know
In my dreams, you have your mother's smile,
Even though we touched for just a while,
All my life you'll have your mother's smile.
The most impressive aspect, as I have mentioned before, is the percussion which consists of slow, erratic, unusual patterns with use of the "less travelled" instruments such as the ride cymbal and floor tom, defining the album highlights Wilting Violet
, (A beautiful, crescendoing song that best matches the artwork) Run a Mile
(the fastest song, making excellent use of electronic sounds) and November
(the album's and one of the band's all time best, every instrument played to its full potential with strongly affecting lyrics that resemble all of Soord's contained anger screaming to be released).
There are no weak songs on this album, but two others of the best are fan favourites Snowdrops
and We Love You
. The first feels like the album's conclusion, with Soord effectively summing up all of the key themes and finally leaving his grief behind ("We are both falling snow / So settle down, just settle down / And in amongst them all,
The little man stands tall.") to finish with a tranquillizing clapping verse.
The latter is a dark, 8 minute encore about a person trapped in a "one horse town" with maddened citizens engulfing them:
Don't you know we love you"
We love you.
We need your soul
We need your soul
To feed our world
To feed our world.
The track develops into a 4 minute instrumental that proves once again how good they are as musicians.
is an astounding emotional, atmospheric and satisfying piece of art, and should be essential for any avid prog fan, The Pineapple Thief being one of the most underrated bands in contemporary music. So go on, pick your copy up. Today.
- Wilting Violet
- Run A Mile
- We Love You