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The Pineapple Thief - Little Man CD (album) cover


The Pineapple Thief


Crossover Prog

3.77 | 180 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Well, with what seemed like a promising start, my introduction to the band was the album ''Variation On A Dream''. Very strong album, albeit a little recycled at times. The ending track, 'Remember Us', was of particular emotional strength. I thought these guys would get better over time, as seems to be the tradition with self-motivated players like the kind typically associated with this type of music. However, it seems-- with ''Little Man'', anyway --that all that has happened is they have gotten better at sounding like other people, and not good enough at developing an original sound.

Look, I realize the guy is grieving, and my heart goes out to him and his situation, but if you don't have enough material for a solid studio effort, don't go through with it. I am also quite aware of how music helps people heal; when it's done correctly, not only will it heal the artist, but the listeners, as well. In this case, I honestly feel like not enough was done to make this a concise, well-focused album.

The first fifteen minutes of this record consists of three songs, all of which are boring and uninspired, and have only about three lines of lyrics being repeated over and over again, like a mantra. If the guy was at a loss for words, he shouldn't have tried to fill the void by stretching them out over course of an average of four minute long songs. Do I sound like an ass? I'm not trying to, but I actually couldn't finish the album the first time I attempted it due to this alone. I mean, after three songs in a row of the same type thing, it seemed as if that's all this record was going to be. However, I finally picked it up again and pressed forward. Luckily, things got a little better after this 'three song hump' period.

'Wait' is the first track on the record that I could honestly call a fully fleshed-out song. It's beautiful, not nearly as repetitive lyrically as its predecessors, and also much shorter, which makes all the difference. It doesn't take overly long to tell its story, then it gets out of dodge. The content in the track is the perfect length for that. Had the previous songs been more concise and not full of B.S. like they were, maybe this album would have a stronger start, but alas, no.

The next track is once again too long for what little content is actually there. 'Run A Mile', it is called, and once again, it's falling short of what it could have been due to being twice the length than it needs to be. Make no mistake, there are some really emotional moments, here, but they are too spread apart, in my opinion, and a lot of the song is made up of soulless bridge sections that feel artificial. The chorus is absolutely gorgeous, but nothing else really affects me, here.

The album's title track is the best so far, with an effectively simple melody, but plenty of heart. The lyrics in this song certainly aren't repeated chants. They speak clearly about Soord's grief in relation to his son's death and how little amount of time they had to spend together. It's heartbreaking, haunting and beautiful. Not typical of this album, which for the most part sounds cliche and stiff, but in the case of this particular track, it's certainly the high point.

'November' is more overly-long, depressing mush. Not much else to say. Starts off promising, but goes downhill almost right away.

'Boxing Day' is the third song that I can actually listen to all the way through without tiring. Brilliantly executed, and once again, the words speak very plainly about what is going on, here. More words from a loving father to his son, and they do indeed move me emotionally. Never would I say is Soord insincere about this. Again, I just think the quality stuff is too surrounded by the uninspired musical moments.

'God Bless The Children'. Okay . . . it sounds like a slight variation on the words from the earlier track 'God Bless The Child'. It's kind of cool to hear, I suppose. I look at it as not really a full-fledged track but instead as an atmospheric interlude, which I am actually a fan of. So, not bad.

'Snowdrops' is a decent piece of acoustic-meets-alternative rock music. The violins are a nice touch. By the way, it should be noted that absolutely nothing on this disc is progressive in any way. So that is made clear, I AM going to rate this album on its Prog merits. That means it will get a comparatively low score from me when help up against the other stuff by them I have reviewed/will review in the future. That doesn't make this a bad album; it just makes it a good straightforward rock album. There is a difference.

The final track on the record, 'We Love You', is once again a moment that makes me think of Porcupine Tree almost completely. A truly progressive band shouldn't do that to a person. The similarities to PT at this point have bled into emulation, which I don't really have much time for. ''Variations On A Dream'' had moments that sounded similar to Porcupine Tree musically, but nothing as close as this. The even bigger problem is that Porcupine Tree makes music that truly sounds 'progressive' to me, where as this stuff can't possibly be progressing at all because the very act of copy-catting somebody else is regressive, if anything.

It's just like when all the Dream Theater clones clogged up the Prog Metal sub-genre, ultimately making it difficult to find truly original bands within that space. Whenever you try too hard to sound like somebody else who influenced you, it leads to music that sounds a bit stale at times. I'm not saying this album is terrible; in fact, it has enough redeeming qualities to make it worth buying, even. But I don't want people expecting to hear something completely fresh to be disappointed upon hearing ''Little Man''.

Okay, so this is where I stand on the album . . . I partially want to give it higher marks than it's ultimately going to get, and there are a couple of reason why. For one thing, the guy is clearly going through a dark time in his life on this record, and I don't want to needlessly criticize what was undoubtedly a hard record to make. Secondly, the music itself probably is more deserving than a 2.5 rating (which is what I'm giving this entry).

However, these are the reasons why I am going through with that rating: Comparatively speaking, the music on the whole doesn't stand up to other The Pineapple Thief works I have heard, and I've already given 'Variations On A Dream' a 3.5 rating. Also, if we are talking about prog music specifically, this is nowhere close. It's good, and still better than most mainstream stuff out there currently, but for prog fans, I'm not sure how strong it is, or how much appeal it would have to the more traditional prog fan, for instance.

Anyway, take away from that what you will. Large chunks of lackluster moments, with small bouts of significantly memorable music, all garnished with a helluva lot of emotion. I wouldn't say skip it entirely; just be aware of what you're getting into, and don't expect anything musically original.

Semi-happy listening, and only for those who don't mind wading through the murk.

JLocke | 2/5 |


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