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Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun CD (album) cover

LIGHTBULB SUN

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.03 | 1426 ratings

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Kempokid
3 stars Porcupine Tree's sixth album further removes itself from the psychedelia of their early work, continuing from where their previous album 'Stupid Dream' left off, further incorporating alternative rock/pop into their sound. At this point, there is very little prog in most of the tracks, with only a select few having any major semblance to it at all. Despite the much simpler nature of the album, I can quite easily say that it is a much more cohesive, enjoyable record when put up against 'Stupid Dream', with many songs either being extremely emotional and powerful, and even the less impressive ones being extremely beautiful, largely due to the incredible production giving everything a lovely sound, being quite subtle and quiet through the majority of the length, working perfectly with the tone of the album.

The album has 4 definite highlights to it, with almost all the remaining songs sounding extremely similar, which would work as a major detriment if not for the clever tracklisting, spreading these throughout the album, meaning that there is never a long period of time where you're listening to filler, and always have a track to look forward to, especially given that the majority of the filler tracks are on the shorter side. Despite saying this, having these filler tracks still undoubtedly works significantly against the album, but the 4 highlights make up for quite a bit of this in my opinion, being some of Porcupine Tree's finest compositions. The title track is a great way to open the album, with lovely acoustic guitars and Steven Wilson's emotional vocals. This track has an excellent chorus and good progression all the way through, making the most out of a simple structure, and perfectly encapsulating the core sound that will be presented. 'Shesmovedon' is the next major highlight, and possibly the best song on the album, with excellent interplay between all the instruments, escalating as it goes on, with the vocals becoming more despondent and desperate sounding, being extremely impactful once the distortion gets used. After this is one of the best guitar solos from Porcupine Tree doing what any great guitar solo does and being able to convey emotion along with technical skill. 'Hatesong' is the heaviest song on the album for sure, starting off quietly, but with a definite feeling that something is building up, especially with the bassline, which has a foreboding edge to it. This continues for a while before the electric guitar comes in, making the song far louder and heavier, before the further increasing in intensity during the second half. 'Russia on Ice' has almost exactly the same basic structure of having the first half being quiet before building in every way, but has is even more defined, having the first half be a slow, despondant ballad with barely any moments of crescendo at all, before hitting the halfway point and continuously adding new elements to a basic riff that sounds excellent, with the song ending with each instrument being played incredibly, with particular mention to the great drums fills. This is definitely the other song that is possibly the best on the album.

Almost all the rest of the tracjs sound extremely similar, being quiet ballads that follow a very basic structure, especially 'The Rest Will Flow', 'Where We Would Be' and 'How is Your Life Today?' which while having slightly different style in sections, are very unmemorable and provide me with the same general feeling of apathy, particularly 'Where We Would Be' which I find quite annoying. The worst song on the album for me is undoubtedly 'Four Chords That Made A Million', being abrasive in all the wrong ways, coming across as unpleasant in an album full of beauty, with everything instead being straight up aggravating here. The unfortunate case is that while these songs may sound nice, they also feel unnecessary to have so many filler tracks, especially when the highlights clearly show what the band is capable of.

Overall, this more refined alternative rock approach continued from 'Stupid Dream' proves itself to be quite worthy in many ways, with the production being exquisite as always with Porcupine Tree, and the sound being more coherent than it has been since 'Up the Downstair'. Despite this, the weaker tracks bring the album down quite a lot, as the experience is quite uneven, especially considering how high some of the highs are on this album. Great album all around, but not an essential one by any means.

Best Tracks: Lightbulb Sun, Shesmovedon, Hatesong, Russia on Ice

Weakest Tracks: Where We Would Be, Four Chords that Made A Million

Verdict: An easy to listen to album that is pretty decent, albeit can sometimes become quite boring due to filler. Don't come into this expecting a masterpiece of prog, or much prog at all for that matter. I'd recommend it if you enjoy the alternative pop/rock sound that this album has, but not for those who much prefer their music to be of the heavier variety.

Kempokid | 3/5 |

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