Review Summary: The start of something beautiful...
The Pineapple Thief have been one of the most consistent British acts of this new progressive rock wave, although I think their output can better be described as alternative rock with prog/art rock influences. The group always drew comparisons to Porcupine Tree and especially now that they co-opted Gavin Harrison, it’s even easier to spot the similarities. Nevertheless, the famous “drum machine” who leveled up Steven Wilson and the gang had the same impact over these guys' sonic direction. The first effort featuring him behind the kit, Your Wilderness
had several intricate portions added and benefited from a newfound creative spirit. Even if Magnolia
was a great effort, TPT were starting to become too predictable for their own good.
The latest project, Dissolution
was conceived with Harrison from the start and this congealing chemistry between the members offers more dynamic results this time. For example, ‘Threatening War’ manages to create quite a compelling atmosphere in 6 minutes, going from subdued bass notes over intermittent drum patterns to catchy, mid-tempo choruses, where the guitars kick in. Ultimately, a heavy segment follows, using a seldom seen power in their repertoire. Even though ‘All that You’ve Got’ is closer to poppier outings The Pineapple Thief excels at, the busy drumming and energetic progressions make things more interesting than usual. Moreover, ‘Far Below’ starts with distorted riffs that allow Gavin to constantly punctuate with cool tom/snare fills along the way. On the second half, they choose to further explore dirtier grooves and it’s exciting, because I, for one, wasn’t expecting them to maintain this energy over multiple tracks. It’s a big plus Soord decided not to indulge too much in faint, falsetto croons, using firm vocals instead. Unfortunately, dropping the pitch also got him closer to Steven Wilson to the point where sometimes you can imagine the latter singing over certain parts.
It wouldn’t be a Pineapple Thief record if we weren’t served some moody tracks. There are less than usual (no complaints about that) and often spiced with louder sections throughout. The obligatory epic, ‘White Mist’ uses piano chords and keyboard touches to create a haunting vibe, whereas the guitars play both background notes & leads here and there. There are various shifting portions, each instrument doing his own thing, yet everyone joins in for a great, punchy finale. Meanwhile, ‘Uncovering Your Tracks’ uses a darker bass line and Soord’s voice is again strikingly close to Wilson’s (the too familiar drum beat adds to this feeling). Still, halfway, some power chords make their way through the low end and a nice guitar solo distracts your attention from this minor bewilderment. The sing alongs are blissful as always, beautifully working over the instruments.
Finally, ‘Shed a Light’ puts a lovely end to Dissolution
with its mournful setting (no interminable plaintiveness), until a harder part joins midway. To be honest, this is a fitting closer to an LP that is tighter and more balanced than a large part of their catalog. Yes, the Porcupine Tree similarities are obvious, however, there’s progress to be found and more excitement than we’ve heard in years. The first one to “blame” is Gavin Harrison, who lifted both these bands' levels then and now, but the rest must've put some extra work on their bits as well (or at least refreshed their input). So, those waiting for a reunion of the much cherished, aforementioned act can be the first to dig in, because I am sure most Pineapple Thief fans will enjoy this to certain degrees. I am curious what Bruce & Co. will come up with next, because they can push in this direction to create an excellent follow-up.