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Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun CD (album) cover

LIGHTBULB SUN

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.02 | 1523 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ohh this is beautiful...

Paralyzes temporarily that part of the grey matter which frets over outside issues and causes the body stress. Frees it up. Takes you in. Not all albums do, not even all good ones. I've always wondered what made Porcupine Tree, this swirl of Beatles, Pink Floyd, Brit-pop, Rush, and Radiohead so able to attract prog fans like moths. The run of great albums from this era through today is admirable under any circumstances, but Wilson has a knack for selling his own visions to a wider swath than most. And none are any lovelier, more poetic, strange, or magical that Lightbulb Sun. Those who love heavy crunch will get more bang from the likes of FoaBP, but for those looking to lose an afternoon in a cloudy head....is there any better ear candy than this? The harmonies and melodies laced throughout are beyond good, the little aural jackpots come from all directions: biting electric guitar, dreamy acoustic guitars, tight rhythms, soft keys, and devilishly good ideas. The only songwriting pitfall here was trying to do too much in one album, so many colors are introduced, but Wilson absolutely manages to craft a fine album--one of the 90s very best proggy alt-rock mutations. Such melancholic themes of isolation and loss pervade just as the presentation of them leaves one spellbound in a good way.

A few adjectives from the reviews of others... "the PT stuff I love, it has dimension, lush, retro, worldly, best midnight music, transmitting a horde of feelings, cathartic, celestial, has cast a spell over me." I would say it's the musical equivalent of one's first kiss.

The tracks so fresh and alive will be developed further on the next several albums but here they are all in their childhood, and just like with kids, there is a wonder and naivety that hasn't been lost from maturing. Nothing against later work but Lightbulb has a very special spark that albums like Rubber Soul had, as heard in the uninhibited glorious vocals of "Shesmovedon." There is pure McCartney in the piano of "How is your life today." There is the overcast of a good Floyd album, the occasional power of a Rush movement, the coy pop-smirk of certain Brit-pop, the Radiohead guitar solo of "Where we would be." (Side note: while sharing Radiohead's production sheen and control of sound, Lightbulb Sun is just so much more FUN than Radiohead.) There are feelings of XTC's "Skylarking" and moments of Graham Nash. There's a slow-motion urgency in some spots, a full-body smooth buzz in others. "Russia on Ice" is an absolute masterpiece, a 13-minute painting that covers an icy post-rock Mono soundscape, then climbs from a hole in the ground, lumbers, changes shape again, takes flight, lingers, and finally becomes a lightshow seen for miles around. The end stretch is some groove that sounds like putting a Sabbath and Chili Pepper riff into a blender--I'm thinking a young Tony Iomni crushin' it with Flea in some alternate universe. If finally drifts off like a leaf on water. After nine such perfect little vignettes one is left to decompress quietly with "Feel So Low." You look around you, wondering if anyone saw you getting slightly lost in the music. You've just flashed way back to a day you could afford to live with a little more abandon. To smile like you mean it.

Yeah, perfect score here because this one brings a unique charm that the others don't, good as they are. And while there might be more impressive individual tracks on other PT albums, this strikes me as their most memorable and consistent set.

5 first kisses, as a certain Tszirmay might say.

" The curtains stay closed now on my little retreat"

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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