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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Pineapple Thief

Tightly Unwound

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve been hearing a lot about this band for a few years – mostly rave reviews, but I hadn’t actually heard them until now. Frankly, I was a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – the CD is great. I’m sure I’ll be listening to it over and over again for years to come. It’s just that I really thought this was a progressive rock band. At times I hear it – the closing epic is one major example. At times I don’t. Much of the disc seems to have more in common with 1980’s groups The Church and The Cure (both of whom I like a lot) than they do with progressive rock. I’m putting them into the prog category for two reasons. First, I can probably argue that half of this album is prog. Secondly, pretty much everyone else seems to put them there – so who am I to argue. I do have a bit of a “the emperor has no clothes” feeling about it, though.

OK, so enough about whether they are progressive rock or not. What does the album sound like? Comparisons to Porcupine Tree are obvious. You could probably also mention Hogarth era Marillion. I can’t imagine anyone not hearing Radiohead, either. And we all know that many consider that band to be progressive rock while others don’t. I hear Pink Floyd pretty frequently, too. Other sounds show up here and there. The long and short of it, though. It doesn’t matter if you call this progressive rock or not. It’s still a great CD and I’d heartily recommend picking it up. The massive closing piece alone is worth the price of admission, but there’s plenty more here to enjoy.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
My Debt To You
This starts with atmospheric textural tones over which the vocals gently roll. Comparisons to Porcupine Tree or Hogarth era Marillion are both valid. This motif holds the track for nearly a minute and a false ending leads on to think it’s over. Then a more bouncy sort of motif with jangly guitar takes over and they continue in a balladic way over the top of this. It ends and we’re into more moody motifs for the next vocals. This general mode (alternating between its variations and it reminds me a lot of ’80;s band The Church – remember “Under the Milky Way?”) holds the majority of the track. They bring in an intricate acoustic guitar pattern after a while and then keys play across this as they continue with this instrumental segment. When it ends were back to the song proper for a more powered up version of itself. They never really move away from this central motif.
Shoot First
They bring this one in faster and harder rocking. The jam that leads off here reminds me of Peter Banks era Yes a bit – or perhaps more like his post Yes band Flash. It drops back to something more like the previous track for the verse, but when they come out from there it’s with a dramatic Genesis-like musical tapestry. This is a cool song that still holds some of that 1980’s sound. A cool instrumental break is included here.

Sinners
Coming in fairly slow and a bit crunchy, this one almost feels metallic in a way. After this introduction a strumming acoustic guitar driven motif gives us some more Porcupine Tree-like musical textures in a balladic format. They alternate between these musical formats, but pull it out into a cool instrumental section with some soaring guitar later. At times the later portions of this call to mind Pink Floyd a bit.

Tightly Wound
There are some proggy sections here and some music that calls to mind Pink Floyd here and there, but overall I’d really have to say that the bulk of this isn’t progressive rock at all, but more like The Cure meets The Church. These guys are really enamored with that ‘80’s sort of sound. That said, they do take this later in the track into some killer progressive rock in the form of a soaring instrumental section that really calls to mind vintage prog. This section eventually ends the piece.
The Sorry State
This is a fun song that alternates between moody balladic music and moody faster sounds. Again I hear more in common here with the sounds of the 1980’s than I do with progressive rock, but there are some Floydian tendencies and links to Porcupine Tree. The hard edged jam later is all rock and roll.
My Bleeding Hand
I like this song a lot. It’s got quite a diverse bag of tricks. Still, though, I think I’d only call it “marginally prog” in nature. It’s a hard edged song with its roots deeply set in the music of the 1980’s.
Different World
Epic in length, this clocks in at over ten minutes. It starts off with acoustic motifs and then fires out into hard edged prog fury. After playing through in this motif for a while they drop it back down to acoustic ballad stylings to carry on. This is modulated for a while and the sounds of chirping birds are heard. As they shift out for the vocals I’m inclined to think of this as Porcupine Tree meets the 1980’s. Still, some of the lusher elements bring in more progressive rock and the gradual changes in the musical composition present that type of effect, as well. This builds very gradually and I can definitely hear a lot of Radiohead in the mix. A little before the five minute mark they drop this way down to a sort of bouncy mellow motif that somehow reminds me of a lullaby. This is pretty and a nice change. It builds gradually upwards from there. They work this through and then drop it way down for a moody sort of interlude that seems to use the musical themes from before and turn it into an almost dark sounding, mellow motif. They power up after a time into a harder edged jam that sounds a good amount like The Cure but blended with Radiohead. As the vocals come in those Radiohead comparisons are more solid. They bring the intensity up ever further as they move forward. Eventually acoustic guitar takes over and then this gives way to an effects oriented version of itself to end the piece.
And So Say All Of You
Moody balladic tones make up the early portion of this track and put it along the same musical lines as Porcupine Tree and Marillion. They power this up with a crunchy version of itself as they carry one and once again I’m reminded of Radiohead. When it drops back to the mellower motifs they add in layers of sound to bring a lusher element to the plate. As this section carries on I’m reminded of Pink Floyd in places. We are given a reprise of the harder sounds later down the road.
Too Much To Lose
At over fifteen minutes in length this track is of epic proportions and the longest number on show here. There are a couple false starts of open jazz that never go anywhere. Then it comes up with a variant on this musical element with more sounds that are kind of a cross between Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Radiohead. I like this segment a lot. When this gets more intense later the Pink Floyd elements are far more dominant and I could really hear this segment of the track having been done by that band. They work through this for a while, getting more intense as they do and then suddenly shift out a clunky, metallic sounding motif to carry forward. This little detour holds it for a while and then gives way to more of the earlier section, but this time it feels more like Radiohead. They turn this a bit sinister for a time and then move on from there. It drops down to space after a while and then percussion joins with the ambient tones and seems about to lead us off in new directions. We get a cool echoey spoken vocal instead. Sounds come and go in an intriguing tapestry of weirdness as this carries on. Then they bring in an ultra heavy (but not extremely loud) segment that comes and goes amidst this backdrop. As they build upon this they seem ready to fire out into some new jam, but instead drop away gradually. Other sounds start in the backdrop threatening to rise up and again the ghost of Pink Floyd is heard. At around the eleven and a half minute mark a keyboard stab climbs upward feeling like it’s going to lead the way to new directions. Instead it finishes with no change in the musical structure. Eventually they do bring in more melodic elements by gradually building back up the type of mellower rock modes that made up the first half of the cut. After a while they power this back out into another Radiohead-like jam that’s quite cool. Vocals return for a few rounds and then they crescendo to end it.
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