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The Pineapple Thief - Abducting The Unicorn [Aka: Abducted At Birth] CD (album) cover


The Pineapple Thief


Crossover Prog

3.43 | 67 ratings

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4 stars Stealing fruit? Hmmmm, major crime, iznit? Well this Vulgar Unicorn offshoot (a stunning yet unrecognized prog pioneer) certainly goes beyond the customary on this, their debut offering. Funny about the U2 comparisons (though well merited), the Irish pop/punk band never mastered the 10 minute + tracks, so here we have 2 epics that clock in at 11.48 and 18.27! The first one starts off the album, a bold and intense ride , properly fueled by some pulsating Mark Harris' bass that booms along brilliantly, lilting drums and directed by some jaded vocals obviously straight out of the Radiohead/the Cure/Smashing Pumpkins (fruit vs vegetables!) scenario. Multi-instrumentalist Nick Lang does a superb job on assorted keys and drums, keeping atmospheres vivid and punchy. The guitar phrasings are shimmering, trembling, effect-laden and mostly rhythmic (Bruce Soord is not a classic lead solo guitarist by any stretch, preferring to choose his spots) which gives this such originality, like a "Private Paradise"! The layered guitar work remains the prime focus here, Soord very obviously influenced by the legendary Phil Manzanera (willfully or not) and it reflects in his playing and in the multiple textures used.

As expressed by a bevy of seasoned reviewers, there are two facets to Pineapple Thief, a proggy epic style that is wholly exhilarating and a poppier/alternative style that is perhaps less sonically enthralling but full of edge (U2 pun!) and bravado by infusing some psychedelic flavorings. Frankly, both tendencies are most interesting in their absolute originality. Between the 2 massive epics there are 6 outright songs like that follow this brighter, sweeter formula, each tune different, adorned with multi-hued little glares of beaming light and acute interest in tweaking the listener's ear. Slick and adventurous like the electro-synth intro of "No One Leaves this Earth", which nods towards parent band Vulgar Unicorn, loaded up with ingenious effects , whispering words and anomalous sounds. When the twangy lead guitar kicks in, the Manzanera effect becomes noticeable, screwing the notes tighter and tighter into a 6 string vise! "Punish Yourself" is a masochist anthem that has some metal garbage can beats that are quite appealing, this is nevertheless very dark and brooding, not something I can really get off on! The structurally quixotic "Everyone Must Perish" selects glittering synths to create the initial melody (and quite compellingly), a hypnotic assemblage of effects that swerve, float and occasionally vanish only to reappear suddenly, again very far from your readily available commercial pop but still weird. Even on a more up-tempo ditty like "Judge the Girl" , both the guitar and the bass remain simply stunning even though I care little for the wonky vocal. This where the truth finally arrives, clear and concise: I love the music, the style and the originality but these whining vocal stylistics are not my preference (which explains why I have no Radiohead and Pumpkin records in my huge collection). My loss I guess! The mesmerizing "Parted Forever" is definitely the highlight reel track here, a glittering prize (as the Simple Minds would put it) of ozonated sound and spectral effects where the synths and e-guitar are simply fabulous. Because of the wide berth given to explore various sonic realms, Soord really gets to stretch out comfortably in a variety of directions, using his axe as a tonal directory of exalted soloing and having loads of fun in the process, nothing ever feeling forced or contrived. One of my favorite tracks ever!

In my opinion, this aspect of Pineapple Thief is really the most alluring reason why a progfan should investigate further. I must say that "Variations" was a strange disappointment to me, still cannot figure out why I just cannot click with it, outside of the final 16 minute "Remember Us" !

This has 4 horned kidnappers in my book.

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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