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Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun CD (album) cover

LIGHTBULB SUN

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.01 | 1091 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

russellk
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is a good, even very good, collection of songs. PORCUPINE TREE will never be guilty of making anything less than top-quality music. However, one simple thing prevents this release reaching the heights of their previous and their next release: they simply didn't include all their strongest songs. It's all about compositional strength, and no matter how glorious the production and packaging, if the basic songs aren't there, there's little to be done.

The problem is, of course, that a number of the more evocative, atmospheric songs written and recorded during this period didn't make it on to 'Lightbulb Sun', included instead on 2001,'s 'Recordings' - possibly the strongest 'rarities' album ever released. Many of the songs on 'Lightbulb Sun' could have been replaced by those on 'Recordings', thereby making a stronger album. Song selection must be such a difficult part of any band's work. They didn't get it right for me, though I note many others are enthused by this album.

'Lightbulb Sun' explores the same musical territory as 'Stupid Dream'. Meticulously arranged, the songs veer from the tight, introspective alt rock of the first six tracks to the broader canvas of the last four tracks. At this point in their career PORCUPINE TREE was a very tight band, with a strong rhythm section underscoring the delightful melodies, pretty hooks, harmonised vocal choruses and occasionally soaring guitars and synths. The result is an accessible album, not overly challenging and certainly not likely to be at the top of a dedicated progger's list of favourite records - though neither will it be anywhere near the bottom.

So we have a mixed bag here. There are strong songs: the title track, 'Shesmovedon', with its intricate harmonies, its build and scintillating guitar solo - go on, STEVEN, give the axe its head! - the dreadful cultish reality of the instrumental part of 'Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth' (with splendid bass), the crushing 'Hatesong' and the wonderfully spacey, progressive 'Russia on Ice' are all worthy PT tracks, and on their own make this a four-star album. But the rest of the tracks are unremarkable, and 'Four Chords' is as close as PORCUPINE TREE gets to genuine dross. We get their point, but they were to make it so much more successfully in 'The Sound of Muzak'.

The album lacks a unifying theme, either musically or lyrically (I can't identify one, in any case, apart from the usual maudlin sentiments and self-deprecation), and is divided in two by a pause after 'The Rest Will Flow'. I suppose this divides the poppier stuff from the proggier stuff, but I see no need for the division. Other PORCUPINE TREE albums are more integrated than this, to their betterment.

Plenty of stuff to be going on with, enough quality to reassure us that 'Stupid Dream' was no fluke, but not quite an essential album.

russellk | 4/5 |

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