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The Pineapple Thief

Crossover Prog

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The Pineapple Thief Variations On A Dream album cover
3.25 | 174 ratings | 27 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. We Subside (4:58)
2. This Will Remain Unspoken (3:27)
3. Vapour Trails (8:31)
4. Run Me Through (4:43)
5. The Bitter Pill (4:35)
6. Resident Alien (4:14)
7. Sooner or Later (3:59)
8. Part zero (7:28)
9. Keep Dreaming (4:21)
10. Remember Us (16:04)

Total Time: 62:14

Bonus disc from 2003 & 2011 SE - "8 Days":
1. Sunday 20th (5:46)
2. Monday 21th (6:23)
3. Tuesday 22nd (4:40)
4. Wednesday 23rd (5:28)
5. Thursday 24th (7:19)
6. Friday 25th (7:17)
7. Saturday 26th (part one) (4:10)
8. Saturday 26th (part two) (4:53)
9. Sunday 27th (part one) (5:55)
10. Sunday 27th (part two) (5:05)

Total time 56:56

Line-up / Musicians

- Bruce Soord / vocals, guitars, keyboards, arranger
- Adrian Soord / Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, Hammond, piano, synths
- Mark Harris / electric & acoustic basses
- Nick Lang / drums, cymbals

- Liz Bramley / backing vocals (3)
- Will Torrens / guitar noises (3)
- Jon Sykes / bass (7)

Releases information

Artwork: PT & Lizzer48 with Neil Randall (design)

2xCD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 129D (2003, UK) Only 1000 units with bonus disc "8 Days" (recorded in 8 days of leftover time from the Variations sessions and used ambient sounds from in and around the studio)
CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 129 (2004, UK)
2xCD Kscope ‎- KSCOPE191 (2011, UK) Remastered & remixed by Bruce Soord with "8 Days" album as bonus disc and new cover art

2xLP Kscope ‎- KSCOPE872 (2015, UK) Remastered & remixed by Bruce Soord

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE PINEAPPLE THIEF Variations On A Dream ratings distribution

(174 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF Variations On A Dream reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
2 stars Unless I'm missing something, the influences claimed in the band description do not seem very evident to me. Rather, the two bands that came to mind most often when listening to this relatively creative but largely uninspired album was Smashing Pumpkins (their "mellower" side) and Renaissance (though without the astounding voice of Annie Haslam). As noted in my review of Anglagard's "Epilog," I find myself having to determine the "success" of many bands by the degree to which they are able to "mix up" their influences and come up with something interesting, or, in rare cases, creative and compelling. This album has some very interesting ideas, but few are original, and even fewer are brought to fruition to very successful degrees. The two best efforts are "Sooner or Later" and "Part Zero." Otherwise, the album is probably worth a listen, and the creator does deserve some credit for effort.
Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars VARIATIONS ON A DREAM, by England's Pineapple Thief, is a solid example of my belief that there is still much of value being done in the field of "progressive" music. (I will leave the exact classification of this excellent album to the listener, because it transcends ready categorization.)

Different critics hear differing influences here, but I agree with prior Archives reviewer Maani that singer/songwriter/guitarist Bruce Soord's laid-back voice evokes that of Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan. The music itself is dominated by keyboards and rhythmic, jangly guitars, and sounds to me somewhat like a cross between the Cure (their lush, sadder side) and Coldplay. (In fact, fans of either band should enjoy this CD.)

Influences and comparisons aside, Pineapple Thief have herein released a recording of understated and -- as the title implies -- dreamy beauty. The overall mood of the album tends heavily toward the melancholy: this is not an album to get you "pumped." What this accessible and unobtrusive music is ideal for, however, is relaxing. I especially enjoy "VARIATIONS" in the early morning with my coffee, or when reading in the evening. I find that each of the ten tracks has something to recommend it, but my particular favourites include the lovely "We Subside" (which opens the album with a cello-like keyboard theme that reminds me of a Strauss waltz); "The Bitter Pill" (which features haunting piano from Adrian Soord); the powerful, guitar-driven "Sooner or Later" (a lament for the fated breakup of a relationship); "Part Zero" (a longer number that contains what is perhaps the disc's best guitar work -- somewhat reminiscent of Roger Gilmour's); and the somber "Keep Dreaming," with a chorus in the form of an impassioned plea to "Keep breathing -- your soul is not leaving." (Anyone who has ever kept a vigil at a dying loved-one's bedside will likely be moved by this heart-felt musical "prayer.") It is the closing track, however, that is my overall favorite on the disc: "Remember Us" is a sixteen minute, multi-layered opus which entreats the listener to "remember us when we've gone" and ably achieves its goal.

In conclusion, this CD represents convincing evidence that all is not yet lost in the prevailing climate of pop-idol clones and thug-rap. The days may be musically "dark" for many, yet Pineapple Thief's VARIATIONS ON A DREAM offers "a light in the darkness" that those weary of what they usually hear on their radios would be well advised to give an ear to.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Conspiracy theorists can make a connection between the shared initials of both PINEAPPLE THIEF and PORCUPINE TREE, and even form a connection between them and SMASHING PUMPKINS for "crimes involving fruits and vegetables". I can't think of an arcane way to connect them with RADIOHEAD, but if you like any or all of these bands, you may be ripe for "Variations on a Dream".

"We Subside"- yep, there's more than a little Billy Corgan in the vocals (how close-sounding is too close?), and plenty of heavy alt rock in the music. Nicely done orchestrations, though, and like many people I'm a sucker for a good string section."This Will Remain Unspoken" has a bit of Mellotron and sounds a little FLOYDian, but that's about as progressive as it gets. However, "Vapour Trails" gets plenty spacey, occupying the same floating realm as "Subterranean Homesick Alien" (RADIOHEAD) and the extended solos on "Drown" (PUMPKINS). "Run Me Through" is a tighter, harder song but with lush instrumentation adding emphasis- not unlike the PUMPKINS' "Machina". I could live without the extended outro though. "Bitter Pill" is an emotional wringer in the vein of "Disarm" or some of the more desperate songs from "Mellon Collie". "Resident Alien" dips a bit into Philip Glass-type arpeggios and industrial elements to craft an interesting melodic soundscape, and "Sooner or Later" distorts the drum machine for an ultra-modern sound...hey, kinda similar to what the PUMPKINS did on "Adore" and RADIOHEAD on "Kid A". "Part Zero" gets both spacy and heavy- and there's some nice acoustic guitars, too. "Keep Dreaming" has a percussive piano rhythm and some Mellotron work that puts it in "OK Computer" territory. "Remember Us" finishes off the album with a dramatic orchestral feel that sadly drops into an unremarkable rock buildup with some decidely uninspired guitarwork. Then a feedback-fueled ambient section arrives to keep things interesting, supplemented by a 4 on 4 electronic beat, repetitive arpeggios and sample-and-hold synth effects to increase the "Adore" factor. Just when everything has come unglued, the heavy rock surges back in to take us out with some lead guitar (a bit better this time around).

Overall, good lush but hard(ish) modern rock sound- if he can focus on different aspects of his voice, they could have a shot at real success. There's a lot of Pumpkinheads out there who would pick up on this (although some of them are so sensitive to sound-alikes that they're suspicious of RADIOHEAD, so that's not promising). The music certainly makes a different statement, with some impressive orchestral flavors and more 'classic' than 'alternative' rock moments. They share the same territory as PORCUPINE TREE- both bands have elements of progressive and alternative influence, but are primarily modern pop-rock bands with a bit of creativity in their arrangements. Not quite as individual, however; the vocals are a major problem even though the music is sometimes more effective and hard-hitting. The problem is, it's not really prog rock as I (or many others) define it, so even though I like PINEAPPLE THIEF enough to give them three or even four stars in the modern rock world, it's a two star rating in this more focused venue.

Review by diddy
3 stars Pineapple Thief is a band wich tends to polarize. On the one hand they play a really fresh and new, innovative kind of prog but on the other hand they are not prog enough for some tastes, maybe a wee bit too much alternative rock in their sound. Influences seem to be amongst others, The Smashing Pumkins but also a moderate breeze of Porcupine Tree. I like to think that this is the way Porcupine Tree would sound like if Steven Wilson never discovered Metal Riffs.

"Variations on a Dream" features some excellent songs as well as songs wich tend to be too alternative and too less prog, sure the mellotron is featured but the general sound seems to differ very conspicuously. Songs like "We Subside", "Vapor Trails", "Resident Alien" and the epic "Remember Us" are innovative prog for me and show the direction for the future of prog. Songs like "Run me Through" or "Sooner or Later" seem to be good alternative rock to me. But a very positive point about this album are the guitar solos. Maybe not technically brilliant but they sound so beautiful. In general this album is, like the title foreshadows, an album wich encourages daydreaming because it sounds truly beautiful.

So "Variations on a Dream" is a good but non essential album that delivers insight in how prog could sound in the future. Some of you will say that it is alternative rock instead of prog but I have to say that this is not the whole truth. Some parts are prog, innovative prog but yes, some parts tend to sound like normal alternative and parallels to the Smashing Pumkins are obvious, particularly the vocals. I would recommend to listen to this album before you buy it. Test some Mp3s or listen to it in a shop (if you find a shop wich has it in stock) before you purchase it. I for one like the album, especially the highlight "Remember Us".

Review by hdfisch
2 stars EDITED 07/08/2005

I was thinking it was time to write a new review for this album especially after I listened to some of their other records. I couldn't say that my opinion about the band turned much towards the positive but somehow I feel obliged to give them a fair rating and to write a bit more about the music presented here. Initially PT was more or less a hobby project by Bruce Soord whose original main band VULGAR UNICORN was rooted more in the traditional prog and for that reason I prefer it as well probably. As mentioned already by other reviewers strongest influences in PT's music are the Pumpkins (from their mellow side during "Mellow Collie"/"Adore" era), Radiohead ("Bends"/"OKC" era) and the other "PT band" (before "In Absentia"). But unlike with Porcupine Tree whose major input comes from Pink Floyd, the alternative elements are prevailing here. Once Upon a time I used to listen to those bands as well, but this was before I realized that there is as well good prog music nowadays and I discovered all these interesting new bands on this site here. Porcupine Tree was one of the first of these bands and since I was listening mainly alt. rock before, I was quite fascinated by them of course. Meanwhile after listening to hundreds of bands from various prog sub-genres I've to say that there are plenty of other ones who are matching more my taste. What I'm missing mainly in their music are features typical for prog like complexity, breaks and shifts in mood and rhythm and odd-timed bars. Sure they're using the Mellotron, but this is where the KC-influence mentioned in their biography ends IMHO and certainly there are plenty of beautiful, but also rather simplistic melodies and as well fairly good guitar solos here. But it's impossible for me to rate a prog album only by its beauty, it has to offer some interesting moments as well to me. So it's really difficult for me to give this album a fair assessment. Nevertheless I'll try it by going through the individual songs.

We Subside starts off rather minimalistic, almost in an avant-garde vein, but as soon vocals are setting in, one gets this special "Pumpkins-feeling". The song develops quite nicely in a highly lush symphonic one, not really exciting for an ol' Proghead but very beautiful. (5/10)

Though This Will Remain Unspoken is a rather nice song as well it sounds a bit boring and doesn't offer any interesting moments and any variability. More or less nice mellow alt rock for me. (4/10)

Vapour Trails is sounding again very adorable but as well dabbling and a bit too uniform for its length. Nice electronic effects and probably great for those fellows who are more into such stuff. (5/10)

Run Me Through is nice alt rock very much reminiscent of Pumkins or Radiohead but really nothing special in terms of prog.(4/10)

The Bitter Pill starts with a nice but simple piano tune, after vocals and guitar are entering it carries on its highly melancholic mood without almost any variation. (4/10)

The all instrumental Resident Alien combines rather simple keyboard tunes with some electronic effects. Quite nice for one spin but IMO it becomes easily boring after a few listenings. (4/10)

Sooner Or Later is pure alt rock and moreover a quite boring song. (3/10)

Next one Part Zero is for me the best song so far, initially very melancholic until the guitar riffing drops in. Although being not very much proggy (depending on how one defines it), it's a quite good song keeping a nice symphonic vein throughout and having a good guitar solo.(7/10)

Keep On Dreaming tries to keep a bit the same vein as the previous one having nice keyboards, including Mellotron but sounding on the whole less interesting. 5/10)

Remember Us is a rather good lengthy epic song without sounding too much longish, although not quite as good as some by other modern prog bands (i.e. The Amber Light). (6/10)


Final rating is 47%. Nevertheless it's a very nice one to listen once or twice and maybe good for daydreaming, so please do not put this one into your car player. Still better than their previous one and I'd round it up to 2.5.

Review by frenchie
3 stars This is a really good album. The opening track almost hasa symphonic vibe to it. This album is quite chilled out which is good but i have an itching feeling that this album lacks something. It is very listenable but does have its times of struggle. "We Subside" is an incrdibly great song. I think the reason why i had difficulties with this album as it lacks balance, it is very chilled and mellow but the album does start to pick up with "Sooner or Later" and "Part Zero". Both of these are excellent tracks, standout ones on this album in my opinion as well as "Vapour Trails" but "We Subside" is the most appealing to me. The vocals on this album are amazing. There is definetly a Porcupine Tree, Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins vibe as other people have said. This album is mellower and not as spacey or experimental.

Some things that bug me about this album are that i fail to see the space/experimental side of this album. It seems like it is based around more straightforward songwriting. It is also difficult for me to pick out any major proggressive elements as well. I'm not sure that this is a prog album, I don't know about Pineapple Thief's other work. "Remember Us" starts a bitterly happy and pop sounding piece that i think contradicts the rest of the album. The rest of the track starts to show signs of experimental and prog but most if it sounds like filler. Another filler is the instrumental track "Resident Alien". The beginging of the album plays like a cold winters morning. I think that the first track is definetly the best piece to come out of this album because it appeals to prog fans, shows off great depressing vocals and has no pop charm to ruin it. This album is a very worthy and interesting listen but it can be a struggle to grip the listner, also i think in a world of prog it is definetly not going to appeal, luckily i like lots of alternate rock so i can relate to this music.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A very somber and very acoustic effort from Pineapple Thief. A sort of cross between older Porcupine Tree and the Smashing Pumpkins, this album is easily the best the Thief have produced. There are many elements that make this album tasteful and enjoyable. One is that the music isn't terribly complex, but it still is intricate enough to please a complexity freak's needs. Second is that each song is fulled to the brim with rich textures, offering a very mellow environment.

The musicianship, while not terribly, complex, is top quality. Bruce Soord does a great acoustic job on every track, and also gives off Gilmour-esque solos, which is a very welcome feature. Adrian Soord also gives a great overall job on the keys, creating rich environments and stellar piano work on each song. One could not ask for anything more musically.

The stand-out track is the finally, the 16 minute opus Remember Us. It begins with quiet and inventive acoustic work, and as the piece expands, the moods and tempos expand and create what could be the best song that they've ever put on tape.

Overall, I was very impressed with my first album outing with Pineapple Thief. This album is their crowning achievement. Recommended to those who like the genre. 3.5/5.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Pineapple Thief is one of the bands I discovered on the Progarchives, and I will admit I bought this album largely because I was curious what a band with such a name would sound like. Maybe it’s just that I’m not too attracted to melancholy sadness these days, but I can’t say this album has grown on me in the few months I’ve owned it. Maybe it’s just a reflection of the times – there’s so much sadness in the world that we can’t escape, I find myself reluctant to voluntarily subject myself to any that I don’t have to.

“We Subside” confirms that all the comparisons to Billy Corgan are valid. This could easily have been slipped onto a Smashing Pumpkins album and only the most ardent fans would know the difference. Same goes for “This Will Remain Unspoken”, which is pretty much the same song, only shorter.

Part of the problem with this next song is that it’s gives the appearance of something special at more than eight minutes and an appropriately spacey title. But a really good progressive or experimental rock song would distinguish itself with either a variety of tempo changes, extended instrumental or solo passages, a complex theme, even a spoken-word poem – something, anything to shape its character and provide some contrast and intrigue. “Vapour Trails” delivers an interesting rhythm and beat, some decent and varied keyboards, but not much more. The twenty second or so riffs are pretty much just repeated a dozen times or so until the group seems to tire of them. A good piece of work, but doesn’t rise to the level of truly impressive.

“Run me Through” takes about a minute to get started, preceded by an almost imperceptible synth sequence before finally erupting (sort of) in a nice lush blur of guitar and acoustic bass. Once again Soord’s vocals are straight out of the mid 90s, largely Corganesque but also not unlike R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe during the same era. I like the interplay of the guitar and organ here, although it does border dangerously on post- disco dance music at times.

“The Bitter Pill” on the other hand, is quite impressive with a tense piano lead-in that could have been theme music for a Friday the 13th movie, and ballad-like vocals that create an appealing mood for casual listening. Unfortunately the mood becomes too casual, as I can’t be bothered to read the lyrics and find out what the point to the tune is. Very relaxing in any case.

The instrumental “Resident Alien” is another horror movie soundtrack candidate, not quite scare-the-crap-out-of-you creepy, more like for the ending where the camera pans out to show the scattered corpses in the backwoods campground at twilight. This is largely sequenced and otherwise synthetic music, but good enough to hold a somber mood for a few minutes.

It seems like this album gets more mellow the longer it goes on. “Sooner or Later” has a tense guitar riff that threatens to explode at any moment and sort of does, but only briefly and not too convincingly. I guess this is a breakup song, and Soord projects enough angst to get his point across, but there’s nothing particularly innovative or memorable to hold the listener’s attention.

“Part Zero” starts off mellow like “The Bitter Pill”, but in this case the lead-in is done with acoustic guitar and some dreamy keyboards. I’ve read about the Pink Floyd comparisons, but I’d say they end with the band’s penchant for interminably lengthy keyboard mood music and depressing lyrics. This one has seems to go on forever, broken up with a few short guitar and rhythm crescendos that sound like Opeth but without conviction. Another not-exactly love song, this one about writing love songs. The guitars here are the best on the album, but could have benefited with a bit more aspiration on drums.

“Keep Dreaming” includes some rather creative Mellotron and piano keyboards, while again keeping the melancholy mood going for a few more minutes. This song kind of typifies the album as whole – a decent sound but rather weak lyrics, and not really fully developed but simply repetitive.

“Remember Us” might be intended to be a mini-epic at sixteen minutes-plus, but it comes off sounding a bit more like a combination of an in-studio jam session and an out-takes mix, which it probably is. If this were a more established band with a better sense of story-telling they might have pulled this off, but overall I’m just left underwhelmed.

This is an okay album, probably even good if you don’t have too great of expectations about being inspired or moved to tears or anything. I’ll give the band the benefit of the doubt since this is my first foray into the world of the Pineapple Thief and give this three stars, while reserving the right to revisit this one after listening to more of their work some day. Probably not too soon though, as this isn’t a band that’s likely to move too high on my album wish-list. Three stars.


Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I'm a sucker for spacey, dreamy soundscapes with vocals to match. It's like PORCUPINE TREE and RADIOHEAD had a kid and they named it PINEAPPLE THIEF.

"We Subside" is very RADIOHEAD sounding and I like the way the song builds. Some good guitar melodies that last for a minute."This Will Remain Unspoken" reminds me of PORCUPINE TREE and is a great tune with vocals and strumming guitar. We also get some mellotron and synth washes, and the vocals are so well done. "Vapour Trails" has a spacey interlude with experimental guitar. Some female backing vocals as well. "Run Me Through" has a melody that reminds me a little of "Turn It On Again" by GENESIS until things change 2 minutes in. Some nice guitar 3 minutes in.

"The Bitter Pill" has mostly piano, strummed guitar and vocals. "Resident Alien" is a cool instrumental with assorted electronic noises. "Sooner Or Later" features a good contrast between the mellow verses and full sounding chorus. "Part Zero" begins with strummed guitars, vocals and mellotron. It does get bombastic at times and there is a good breakout of guitar after 5 minutes. "Keep Dreaming" is another highlight for me, a RADIOHEAD sounding song with some killer mellotron. "Remember Us" is at over 16 minutes quite the ride. I like the two guitars playing a different melody at the same time. The soundscape becomes hypnotic, as well we get some more experimental sounds and later some incredible guitar. Amazing tune !

This is the kind of music that simply makes me feel good, and draws out certain emotions. Highly recommended.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Fans of dreamy atmosphere and melancholy, emotive textures will find a lot to like in this release from Pineapple Thief, which features a set of songs heavy on syrupy-sweet vocal deliveries and delicate guitar work. At least that's the impression a new listener will likely get at first, until the savage guitar riffing picks up. Dynamics are a big part of this music, and Soord's arrangements do pack quite the punch once they get moving; waiting through a few minutes of droning, sustained vocals usually pays off before long-- some may not like to wait that long though (and waiting there is).

I don't recommend this one as much as the more even "137", but fans from the genre will be delighted by "Variations" melancholy melodies and soaring guitar builds.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars Well, this is good. Not that ALMOST PERFECT as "Little Man"(2006), but there are some top-notch pieces like "Remember Us" (clocks at 16 minutes!) and "Sooner or Later". Some songs sound like fillers - I mean, there can be no them, and you wouldn't notice the change. I've never been RADIOHEAD's fan, but PTh dance on their territory very well and quite enjoyable. Add some PINK FLOYD and PORCUPINE TREE influences as well, and you'll got a fine album one can like. My prime complaint goes to bonus CD. This is when you CAN get along WITHOUT it. It adds nothing to my whole impression, just makes album a bit more boring and long...Sad but true. Anyway, you may try it - recommended to Modern Melancholic Prog fans
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I am writing this review with a heavy heart, not just because I get to disagree (a rare event, I assure you) with my colleague sinkadotentree whose opinions and taste are uncontestable but also because I adore the previous Pineapple Thief albums as well as Bruce Soord's work with Vulgar Unicorn (which remain my favorites) but this album just doesn't ring my bell. I have tried repeatedly but the trigger still will not discharge the pleasure bullet. Yet, all the trappings are there, sublime artwork (exactly down my alley: blue, dreamy and vivid), gigantic helpings of "The Great White Tron", succulent bass guitar and prolific percussive drums, as well as Soord's unique guitar style that never disappoints. Being an incurable romantic, the more melancholia the better; damn, I even think I enjoy pain sometimes (Sonia, will you put down the whip now, please). The songs, it's got to be the songs. I do not know Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins or Coldplay (outside of what I may have accidentally heard "en sourdine") but I have all the Porcupine Trees (more like a forest, by now) and I can dig a sad tune even more than the lover's leapers but I need some aching melody to yank my chain and there are few on this record. Some songs occasionally manage to shock the monkey, like "We Subside", with its mournful trembling and soporific vocal, a vastly evocative lament that expresses pain well, chopping guitar stabs and walls of keyboards masses. It's not only the songs but the vocals that leave me unconvinced; I guess I am not a fan of that type of Billy Corgan yelling-vocal style. One of the high points, "Vapour Trails" is spacey but the vocals again do not impress, even though the restraint is there. Lots of varied guitar and keyboard orchestrations and sonic effects make this a PTree distant cousin but Wilson's voice is so much more lavish. I prefer Like Wendy's Bert Heinen's voice, less droning and more poignant, in my opinion. "Run Me Through" is depressive and repetitive with a monotonous vocal exaltation that leaves me giggling more than anything but is saved by a vacillating guitar sortie that adds a little fiber to the pineapple. "The Bitter Pill" starts off with glittering piano, quickly evolving into a sorrowful ballad that has little melody but loads of sadness, guilt and regret. I realize now that his vocal style will never turn me on but "c'est la vie". Out of the blue, the excellent "Resident Alien" is a clever melody, with an almost sound trackish appeal, like some score for a Jason Bourne sequel and since there are no vocals, this will be my preferred track here, by far. "Sooner or Later" plunges back into the opiate hysteria of an overwrought voice seeking to express the rage of separation. Sorry, but I just can't. "Part Zero" says the right words "I'm doing all I can, But all I get is a suicide plan", smashingly angry guitars, jagged -edged melody, wisps of mellotron, Bruce's vocals a tad more linear, really swerving into the ultra-sad Blackfield territory, probably the second real fine track here, topped off with a researched and extended guitar excursion that has plenty of feeling and sizzle, as if under a temporary Manzanera spell. Now you're talking! "Keep Dreaming" tips back to the yawning dullness of overblown emotion, saved only by torrents of string and trumpet mellotron that truly ignites the embers and ends nicely. "Remember Me" is the 16 minute + finale, an extended, truly progressive musical adventure that , finally, extends beyond the contemporary platitudes and delivers some riveting moments , acoustic guitar expressions mixed with keyboard colorations and very brief vocal passages, all giving way to some surprising lead solos. That being said, it does veer into some experimental zones which is kind of odd because it has nothing in common structurally with the preceding 9 tracks, almost as if an in-studio jam ensued. This is no Pink Floyd epic and it does plod on without too much soloing, just lots of backing vocal panting and wailing that has little impact on the overall feel. A volcanic guitar blast certainly spices up the proceedings but too little, too late. 3 noriegas
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Quite impressed with their 2008 release "Tightly Unwound", I step backward five years and find this "Variations on A Dream" album. My first reaction to the music is something like Cold Play had been doing. The first track "We Subside" (4:58) sounds similar to Cold Play even though you might find similarities as well with mellow side of Porcupine Tree or Blackfield. The second track "This Will Remain Unspoken" (3:27) reminds me to Porcupine Tree especially during the acoustic guitar rhythm at the intro part of the song. The use of mellotron enriches the music textures. "Vapour Trails" (8:31) has even slower tempo with acoustic guitar serves as main rhythm section augmented by howling guitar and keyboard. Up until this third track I actually start to get bored with the tempo as it moves quite slow and I want "energy", actually. This is then continued with relatively upbeat music in "Run Me Through" (4:43) which the organ / synthesizer as well as the rhythm section reminds me to "abacab" (an album by Genesis). Lucky that the band finally plays something upbeat, even though quite late, otherwise I am totally "bored" waiting for the music to move up. It's quite devastating to me if I keep listening music which sounds so mellow.

"The Bitter Pill" (4:35) has a great piano work, accompanying the vocal. The song is quite straightforward even though it has some great segments where the bass guitar and piano produce excellent sound. "Resident Alien" (4:14) uses dynamic string arrangements at the opening part and it makes great sound and it's different compared to other tracks. The exploration of sounds as combination of string, vibraphones, drums and continued with acoustic guitar is really great. This song is probably like a parade of sounds that result in excellent soundscapes, without vocal. "Sooner or Later" (3:59) brings up the energy with excellent combination of vocal, guitar and low register bass notes that makes the overall music sounds great. Guitar provides soft riffs among segments. "Part zero" (7:28) brings back to acoustic structure followed by long sustain keyboard work. The album concludes with an epic "Remember Us" (16:04) which has great acoustic guitar fills during intro, supported by string section. The double acoustic guitar work with one serving as rhythm section and the other as main melody is a great combination.

You must have patience in dealing with the music of Pineapple Thief because most of their compositions are mellow in nature, and subsequently might create a "boring" state. But if you get used to the music of RPWL, Cold Play, you might be enjoying this album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

For years, I'd sort of put back further the discovery of PT (no, not Porc Tree ;o))), fearing what I'd understood was a typical neo-prog group, something reinforced by its "belonging" on the UK specialized label of Cyclops, and even more, their Vulgar Unicorn antecedents, potentially the worst "prog band ever". So when I chanced upon their Cds in my library system, I took the opportunity and rented both albums available. The Soord brothers would apparently head this band, but I believe it's mostly Bruce than Adrian, the same way it was John Fogerty and not Tom that headed CCR. The usual prog quartet is without surprise, but very tight, each member holding their own at their respective instruments, as shown in the instrumental Resident Aliens.

With 03's "Variation of a dream" (PT's third album I believe , I was a bit surprised not to find the usual Marillion-esque cliché (although there are a few moments clearly headed that way too. So I found something rather different than M-IQ clones but also a bit the other neo-prog cliché (more recent), but the Radiohead-derived neo-prog, also looking at shorter (this is relative of course to some of the cannons) poppier songs, almost making you think of the 90's Britpop. And this is really evident not only in the whinny vocals and the songwriting

Don't get me wrong, there are some really good moments (such as the cello/violin in the final 16- mins "epic" Remember Us), and PT is nowhere insufferable as was VU, but the clichés and "borrowings" are plentiful, even if impeccably played. I suspect this type of album ravishes the neo-progheads, and I can easily see why. This album comes with a second disc (this time the black blot becomes a silver- coloured foetus) filled with tracks presented under the 8 Days title, but we have absolutely no information, even down the track's names, but the general direction of the music is somewhat a bit different. I'd say that the musical propos is definitely more instrumental and with a wider scope, ranging from the same Britpop to some hints of post rock,

Certainly not my cup of tea, PT's VoaD is probably one of the more interesting things coming out of the Cyclops catalogue, but then again, my general opinion on this prog current is not very significant, since I'm generally known for not being a fan of neo-prog.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I feel sorry for this, but I can't avoid to speak of ''Radiohead'' while listening to this PT album. Same sort of languishing vocals, same type of tranquil rock music, which is by the way pretty decent and fine to listen to.

This record lacks probably in variety, but so were their previous works as well. Some highlights or songs that I prefer amongst the other ones : ''Run Me Through''. Even if it sounds somewhat pop; it is more positive, more vibrant. Especially during the closing guitar break.

But this album is a fine way throughout melancholy (''The Bitter Pill'') and deserves a listening. Don't look for complexity, nor to too much prog in here. This is not what it is. A good rock album, with a mid tempo global mood. ''Sooner Or Later'' is also a good tune IMO (but quite in line with their overall production).

The structure of some tracks (the longer ones), is more elaborate: ''Part Zero'' is my fave of the whole: a sustained intro, some subtle acoustic guitar to go along the vocals and the fine melody are really catchy items. They should head more towards this type of composition. Very good song indeed.

Same sort of comments apply to the epic ''Remember Us''. Some sixteen minutes trip into the PT universe. It has it all what you can expect from the band. A excellent way to close this good album although the noisy and uninspired middle part (some might say ''avant-garde'') could have been avoided.

Three stars.

Review by JLocke
3 stars As is typical of me, I find myself immensely enjoying something that many of my fellow reviewers here seem to greatly dislike. Now, make no mistake; The Pineapple Thief is nothing we haven't heard before, but it isn't a direct 'clone' of any other artist, either. Heavy and obvious influences from Radiohead and Porcupine Tree are undeniable, and yet plenty of other muses have spilled through as well. To my ears, Smashing Pumpkins has also played a role in TPT's sound, at least on this particular album.

This is the very first record by these guys I have ever heard, and I am quite pleased with it, myself. Like I say, nothing completely original, but nor is this a carbon copy of other works. It walks the line between modern Space-Rock and the popular Crossover movement of recent years. The psychedelic soundscapes a la Pink Floyd is just as heavily present as any pre-In Absentia Porcupine Tree record, yet has the songwriting style of the Pumpkins. The singer's voice sounds remarkably like Steven Wilson to me, but again, emulation does not equal immitation, per se. Plenty of signature stuff can be found here, as well.

Plenty of variation also ensures you the lister will not easily tire of the tunes found within. Songs like 'We Subside' and 'Vapour Trails' clearly boast a more traditional 'Alt. Rock' vibe, while still maintaining my interest and not allowing the music to get too repetitive or boring. Likewise, the final track, 'Remember Us', is a Progressive Rock 'epic', and should not be overlooked under any circumstances (it was actually this very song that peaked my interest in the band and led me to collecting their discography). So while some of the material may seem bland to traditional Prog enthusiasts, there should still be enough classic influences to satisfy, if an open mind is kept.

The tone of the music all throughout this work is dark, melodic and mournful. I honestly haven't taken the time to completely dissect and decipher the lyrics for myself, but I would expect the topics being spoken of here are full of heartbreak and loss. It's not an album you would want to listen to if you're already in a depressive mood, however, much like Tool's music, there is light at the end of this tunnel, and I was left feeling hopeful by the record's end despite all the darkness. Again, not for everyone, but as long as you are open to new musical frontiers, there is no reason why you wouldn't be able to appreciate this music for what it is: simplistic, mellow pop-prog. Not the most memorable of music in comparison to many of its fellows, but to give this album anything below a three seems a little harsh.

Bottom line: if you enjoy modern Prog Rock, and remain open to simpler music, you should find something to like in ''Variations On A Dream''. Just don't expect the next Close To The Edge, or anything. It isn't that kind of prog music.

3.5 Stars. Happy Listening.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have been listening to Pineapple Thief off and on for about three years now courtesy of a Prog Archives introduction. Always hard to put my finger on it, but I have worked them out at last. They are a hybrid sound of Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and themselves of course. Variations On A Dream was released in 2003 and begins with the pleasant " We Subside" Great vocals and guitar work, though the repetitive keyboards becomes a tad bit irritating before fading." This Will Remain Unspoken" is a great emotional song with some excellent accoustic guitar. It is really hard not to like Bruce Soord's vocal style. " Vapour Trails" has some great drum work and sound effects building to soaring climaxes, the chorus does jarr the senses after a while unfortunately. " The Bitter Pill" is a nice ballad with beautiful vocals,keys and accoustic guitars. His voice again so similar to someone but I can't quite put my finger on it. Anyone heard of As Tall As Lions? " Part Zero" has an excellent guitar solo which is actually quite mind bending. The sixteen minute closer " Remember Us" finishes the album on a very high note, again the lead guitar is simply superb. The one weak spot on Variations On A Dream is " Sooner Or Later" which seems oddly out of place here. I want to give the album three stars because I always round down however this is such a strong 3.5 stars I am going to give the album the benefit of the doubt and round up for a change. Very addictive music so be warned.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars People like to compare The Pineapple Thief to Radiohead and/or The Smashing Pumpkins, and even to Porcupine Tree. I have been guilty of the same mainly because, well, they do wear their influences on their sleeve, but they do wear them well. That is what keeps me coming back to them. Sometimes their music is very light on the prog and heavier on the alternative. Bruce Soord's voice sounds like a slightly more mellow version of Billy Corgan from TSP, and the themes of Radiohead, but usually with less progressiveness. I find on many of their albums, most of their songs are nice, but not very memorable.

"Variations of a Dream", however, is a step above the norm for The Pineapple Thief, at least for me. There is something about it for me that is more memorable and impressive. There are the usual so-so tracks like the instrumental "Resident Alien" which seems like it wants to go somewhere, but ends up just serving as filler, or the repetitive and somewhat annoying "Sooner or Later". But the good tracks on here are really good. For example, I find a lot more heartfelt emotion on "The Bitter Pill" and "We Subside", more ingenuity and room to expand on the 16 minute track "Remember Us", and a little more experimentalism and ambience in "Vapour Trails". Just when you think things might be just a little too sad and slow, they throw in a track just a little more upbeat in "Run Me Through" which also has a great guitar solo in the middle. Bruce also seems to be trying to find his own sound here, but this wouldn't always continue to be the case.

It does seem that every so often, you come across an album of theirs that is better than the others, but it is always hard to put your finger on what it is that makes this album better. I think that when the band gives more time to let their music breathe, they have better results, but not always as was the case with "What We Have Sown" on a different album that stretched out to 27 minutes, which was 12 minutes of overdevelopment. At least, their music is always just good enough to make me want to keep trying, and this album does have more to offer than some of their others, if nothing else, better melodies and better developed songs.

I have given many of their albums 3 stars because they are good albums, but they have nothing that is really memorable or groundbreaking. I give this one 4 stars because the songs are better and more developed for the most part. It has always been one of my favorites from them and each time I hear it, I find it much more intriguing than their weaker albums, which I sometimes have a hard time getting through.

Review by The Crow
3 stars "Variations on a Dream" was an important album for Bruce Soord since he managed to open his fan base back in 2003.

In addition, here we finally hear a more personal style, differentiating itself from its obvious influences given by Radiohead and Porcupine Tree.

Unfortunately, the fact that it is a double disc plays against it, since although it has absolutely brilliant songs, especially in its first part, there are also many filler songs on the second one, which is also much less progressive and not very interesting for fans of the genre.

However, for my taste it is the best release from the first stage of The Pineapple Thief before definitively establishing themselves as a band on their next album "10 Stories Down".

Recommended, without a doubt!

Best Tracks: We Subside (some beautiful guitars), Vapour Trails (long, slow-burn but yet emotional track), The Bitter Pill (wonderful vocal melodies), Part Zero (a track that can compete in quality with the best songs of his recent albums, and which is without a doubt the highlight on "Variations on a Dream". The guitar solo is absolutely amazing!), Remember Us (just like Vapour Trails, it's a song that reminds us of the first two albums of the long and intense band, with a very atmospheric and sad interlude)

My Rating: ***

Latest members reviews

4 stars It's getting better, album after album, the PT is like a good wine, getting better with age, they sound more authentic. Again it's not equal, some average songs among very good songs which are Remember us, We Subside, The Bitter Pill, Vapour Trails, Part Zero, while run me through is the weakest ... (read more)

Report this review (#2238403) | Posted by fabien | Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Another step in the development of the band's sound - even less progressive elements and trying to sound like an alternative pop/rock band with touches of melancholy (Porcupine Tree/Radiohead) and some mellow Smashing Pumpkins vocals thrown in. After the first two dreamy tracks comes a more exp ... (read more)

Report this review (#2038023) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, September 24, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is the one that marked or define Pineapple Thief's style. Even though the style didn't vary much from the first two albums, Variations on a Dream is more serious, better developed, more conscious, deeper in feelings. If Pineapple Thief is in the archives, it is because their style s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1015505) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Friday, August 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I guess the low scores for this album should be motivated by the repetitive melodies, something that may bother some people, from the progressive point of view. And in some parts sounds dangerously alternative, as in Sooner or Later. The epic Remember Us is the highlight, which closes the album ... (read more)

Report this review (#936258) | Posted by sinslice | Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Pineapple Thief with its crossover prog Radiohead or Coldplay style did a very good work here. This album is not as good as For what we have .... but near its level. PT has plasmated its space melancholic style very deeply ,most of the songs you hear lamentations melodies ,very beautiful so ... (read more)

Report this review (#167660) | Posted by robbob | Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 2 or 2.5 stars. I got this album when looking for recommendations to fans of Porcupine Tree. After listening to Variations on a Dream, these recommendations don't seem very accurate to me. I don't find this album very interesting, hence I don't listen to it very often anymore. Some songs, li ... (read more)

Report this review (#106445) | Posted by darkmatter | Sunday, January 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This CD is pure class from start to finish. How many other CDs do you know that start with a track as brilliantly different as 'We Subside', end with the truly magnificent opus that is 'Remember Us' and have not a duff track in between? Do yourself a favour, if you like Porcupine Tree or Radi ... (read more)

Report this review (#96883) | Posted by progadder | Thursday, November 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars VARIATIONS ON A DREAM is an accessable and brilliant album. Strong similarities can be drawn between the style of PINEAPPLE THIEF and PORCUPINE TREE, without the metal riffs of Steven WILSON. The vocals are reminiscent of RADIOHEADS "OK Computer", and other vocalists mentioned in other review ... (read more)

Report this review (#17796) | Posted by | Saturday, October 30, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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