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The Pineapple Thief - Little Man CD (album) cover


The Pineapple Thief


Crossover Prog

3.77 | 180 ratings

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4 stars The Pineapple Thief are back into my search posse as definite targets of further interest, having re-established a relationship with their material post-'Variation' , which is where I had severed my interest for inexplicable reasons. I went looking more towards Anathema for my melancholic, gut-wrenching rides. My friend mellotronstorm is the main culprit for finding my way first to the imperially majestic 'What Have We Sown ' and still dazed from the aftershock, I ordered both 'Little Man' and the 'Someone Here is Missing' is on its way to my door. I did my research (aka read John's heartfelt review) and that was enough to take the plunge with 'Little Man' and I have been giving it the full treatment. The subject matter is extremely painful, almost to the point of torment. As a father of five, I cannot even begin to comprehend the loss of one of my offspring, it would be devastating to the point of catatonia. A searing bullet of sheer terror through my brain. Bruce Soord lost his premature-born son Felix and was comprehensibly affected down to his core. Therefore the pain that emanates from the grooves is palpable, fragile yet brutal, despairing and final. Funny thing about pain, it's often the source for great works of art, be it literature, paintings, sculpture or music. This suffering belongs to the artist but he cannot help but express it and we as an audience have to respect that, and in fact, emphatically embrace it. With empathy and love, understanding and compassion. Pity the empty swing in a snow-covered park, blue skies overhead.

Because of the context, the resulting album is therefore subject to a different set of standards, as the artist was definitely under enormous strain and pressure, which can obfuscate the clear-minded thinking that goes into the creative process. This is why the songs seem a bit disjointed or in some cases raw, as if submerged with a thick coat of distress that prevents any sunny disposition. So it should come as no surprise that the opening song 'Dead in the Water' has this numbing anesthetized cotton sound, severe despondency in the mood and punctuated by thrashing drums, heavy on the crashing cymbals and a general woozy disposition that is quite 'sinful'. The shuffling electric guitar is moribund yet jangly. Death. Water. Pain. The slightly more psychotic 'God Bless the Child' is driven by an unrelenting repetitive rage, hand claps notwithstanding, as if to find some kind of solace, some kind of panacea. 'I'm not doing it anymore' and the title reiterated ad infinitum. Anger. Rage. Fear.

Then, suddenly, from the blue skied horizon comes 'Wilting Violet', an absolute delight, a song of utter beauty and tenderness. Hoping for a superior response, something worthy of expression, in finding words that cannot explain anything anymore, as the metronome ticks and tocks with exalted tension. Both Soord and Kitch both vent heavily on their respective instruments, the guitar in fury and the synths in gale storm mode. Another agonizingly gorgeous melody announces that 'there is nothing one can do', but somehow 'Wait', as the numbing pain gently subsides, replaced by a massive mellotron embrace, military drums leading the parade. Fragility. Remembrance. Despondency.

The anger-fueled mania of 'Run for a Mile ' is a definite high point, slashing and thrashing guitars shoving the smoking mellotron ahead , driven by the cymbal-heavy oppressive drum assault and trebled bass furrow. 'Push it further', he yells gently. The bewildering piece snarls, rages, spits and splatters, with almost punkoid energy, determined and omnipresent, eventually becoming quite the sonic tornado. It all comes to a screeching halt momentarily, almost to a silence, only to restart once again veering towards a, by now, tempestuous mode. The title track is all purity and despair, an honest tribute to the fallen little one. No warning, nowhere to go and hide, no escape. The lyrics are poignant to the point of tears. Life is unfair as well as fragile, fleeting, without the slightest warning sign. Solitude. Dreams. Family.

Then comes a series of songs that, while still pulling at the heartstrings, fully develop into mini-masterpieces of progressive rock music, coated with oodles of melancholic expression. The spectral and majestic 'November' introduces glacial gusts of mellotron and a disconsolate mood, surely the most symphonic piece here, gently beautiful and epic. The ensuing guitar pyrotechnics engage on a most primitive level, heavily distorted and in obvious agony. The melodic peak is achieved on the sensational as 'Boxing Day' has a glorious chorus that feverishly clings to your heart strings, engulfing the listener in a balmy wind of hope and salvation. The lyrics really hit hard: ' I hold you tighter very night and I never let you out of sight', coated with an orchestral veneer that really impacts the arrangement. 3 Minutes and 53 seconds of absolute splendor and melancholia. A brief instrumental reprise of 'God Bless the Children' serves as an intermezzo, a broodier version of the first one, now addressing all of them as opposed to only the little one. This leads straight into 'Snowdrops', another melodic triumph, a magnificent piece of audio jewelry that breathes insubstantiality, life is just like a snowflake, eternally complex and unique yet totally flimsy and delicate. The lyrical content is elevated to celestial heights with words of wisdom: 'I will slow your fall, that is all, just settle down, the little man stands tall'. Yeah, gut wrenching, as the hand claps return to the fore, building up an emotional crescendo, heavily festooned by orchestral support.

The crushing finale is also the longest piece here, surely an elegy of the most personal kind 'We Love You' starts with an electro bleep that lingers throughout and adds dimension to the desolate lyrical manifestation ('I need your soul to feed my world'), the accent clearly on the legacy of a love that is both unbreakable and eternal. The instrumental blow out is sheer magnificence, somehow showing the way beyond. Certainly disheartening and deeply hurtful but eternity comes to those who die and who have been loved for the person they were. Faith. Fate. Freedom.

This is perhaps one of the most personal and profound piece of musical art I have heard in a long time, a scream in the dark, a searing blade shoved deep into the soul. Respect. Honor. Love. When compared to the next album, the masterful 'What Have We Sown', it appears that the Soord was not up to the task of honing the sonic details and deliberately, perhaps even mercifully, kept things straight and narrow and obviously, highly emotional and grief stricken . A dark moment. Let's leave it then at that.

4.5 tiny angels

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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