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Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.02 | 1523 ratings

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3 stars As far as Porcupine Tree albums go, Lightbulb Sun has plenty to offer, though there seems to be a lot lacking throughout.

For the most part, Steven Wilson stripped down the sound of the album, turning out a couple of acoustic numbers and, with a couple of exceptions, much more straightforward song writing. Plenty could call much of the music here pop, though perhaps equating it more to the indie style would be more precise. The psychedelia of earlier Porcupine Tree releases, some of which still hung on in Stupid Dream, is basically nonexistent, though there are a couple of instrumental portions that focus more on mood than on musicality. However, this album is still not quite as hard-hitting or melodically impressive as its successor, In Absentia. What we have, then, is a liminal musical effort from the band that more or less exists in its own era of Porcupine Tree. Though Stupid Dream is similar, there is no other album from these fellows that sounds much like Lightbulb Sun.

The album opens with the title track, using acoustic and electric guitars to kick the album off in a straightforward, semi-rocking way. The vocal melodies are nice and the guitar riffs somewhat memorable. How Is Your Life Today? is even more simplistic, featuring a more mellow outlook and Wilson vocals over some basic piano. Near the end, the vocals split up and harmonize in the manner that will be much more thoroughly addressed on In Absentia. The album continues as Four Chords That Made a Million enters with some Indian sorts of sounds. Soon, though, the music returns to a pop/rock style and lets Steven vent a bit by singing the title quite a number of times. Shesmovedon is the first true standout on the album. While it sounds more or less as simple and mellow as those before it, it becomes a nice showcase for Maitland's drumming styles. A full and melancholic chorus keeps the song moving, and it closes with a wild Wilson guitar solo. The pace is continued fairly well with the also impressive Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled. This song begins with some sitar-like strumming, and moves forward with another traditional Wilson vocal line and so forth. The second half, however, builds in dark atmosphere while the clip from the Heaven's Gate suicide plays in the foreground. It represents a significant change from the mostly one-directional music on the album before it.

The Rest Will Flow is a gentle and pretty song powered by some strings and a somewhat redundant set of lyrics. Hatesong is the first actually long song on the album, at about eight and a half minutes. It opens with some impressive bass guitar, and things gradually get added. The instrumental post-chorus is a sequence of particularly interesting and well-produced chords. The song features, next to the parts on Russia on Ice, the heaviest guitars to be found on the whole album, effectively foreshadowing the band's future developments for In Absentia and those following. Some guitar solos and heartfelt vocals give this one a solid feel. The slightly basic Where We Would Be lets the pace of the album slack quite badly, and keeps this release from being as on-the-whole impressive as it should be. The guitar solo is a nice one, though, and more or less is the only highlight of this weak track. A quiet beginnings starts of the album's epic, if you will, Russia on Ice. The first half of the song is a straightforward, melancholic song about a breakup with nice harmonies and beautiful strings. The second half, though, begins with a slippery bass line and builds to as much metal as the band had ever touched before In Absentia. It ends with sounds of bells and quiet atmosphere. The closing track is Feel So Low, and while it does a good job of providing a sense of completion, on the whole it is a fairly standard and dull mellow track.

There is lots here for a Porcupine Tree fan, but even still, the album is particularly average. Lots of weaker and less unique songs turn this album into something like Wilson's closest stab at radio-friendly music. I would recommend waiting on this album until you've heard In Absentia and Fear of a Blank Planet first.

LiquidEternity | 3/5 |


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