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Steven Wilson - To The Bone CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

3.58 | 415 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Steven Wilson Trying to Be a Pop Star and Failing but Making Good Music anyways

Steven Wilson is changing his artistic approach to music and re-thinking his role as a solo artist. More specifically, he wants the audience standing and dancing, he wants to reach mainstream success, and he wants to steer away from the progressive rock label. The album is fairly successful in a musical sense, but indicates a troubling change of direction for the artist, especially if you pay attention to his wants in interviews and speeches on stage. I fear his choices for his favorite tunes in the album, as they are among his most derivative songs of his solo career. The production of the album is also troubling, as if Steven Wilson wanted to make a tribute out of the 80s and eliminating complex percussion and some modern recording techniques. As far as reaching wide success, this album is a colossal failure and not surprisingly, given his sheer musical output experience and age, the general audience would not get drawn in by song knock offs from Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, ELO, or ABBA (some of the singles)

Before the overhyped album was released, there was a surprising number of tracks released to draw enthusiasm, and they were less impressive than what Wilson generally is capable of. 'Pariah' is very pretty but suffers from unimaginative lyrics, a grating volume imbalance in its ending, and sounds derivative from Peter Gabriel's 'Don't Give Up' structurally and sonically. 'The Same Asylum' sounds like a second rate Porcupine Tree tune trying to be catchy but does feature more involved instrumentation. 'Permanating' is legitimately catchy, though the influences are quite obvious and is awkwardly placed after single 'Refuge', which is somber, grander in scope, but borrows heavily from Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel. 'Nowhere Now' has a more ambitious music video and is a pretty good pop song and overall one of the better singles here. The one single that really stood out for me is the electronic 'Song of I' - structurally progressive rock with a steady beat but always shifting music with no clear structutal pattern yet blended in with clearly mainstream modern features. It is experimental, creative, and very memorable.

Outside the singles, the remaining songs fare pretty well. 'To The Bone' is more of an earworm than any of the singles except maybe Permanating. 'People Who Eat Darkness' has an angry punk sound and carries the most energetic rhythms of the album. 'Detonation' has a sinister mood, syncopated synthesized bass, and a bizarre transition to an extended macabre dance song that takes a lot of listens to accept and enjoy - it really came to life when played live. 'Song of Unborn' is the other clear standout of the album with sparse, but progressively more symphonic music, some of his best lyrics of his career, with a massive but pleasant wall of sound in finale.

The music is overall successful and does show a different kind of musical maturity, mainly in restrained and melody writing. However, it is a troubling new direction that I feel is not sustainable as this approach can quickly get stale. Nervously anticipating what a new album would sound like, hopefully another new direction but involving a more flexible genre than pop. I also want to sit on stage - his music is not meant for standing!

Zitro | 4/5 |


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