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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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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars 10 songs that made a million...

Porcupine Tree's "Lightbulb Sun" ages well like fine wine, and listening back to this after a long hiatus from Porcupine Tree and indulging in so many other artists and styles was sheer bliss. The relaxing feel of the band, the powerful melodies and Steven Wilson's brilliant crystalline vocals were outstanding. The songs that jumped out and brought instant satisfaction include 'Lightbulb Sun' with such a wonderful melody and serene atmosphere. The heavy guitar riff is never overbearing but such a mark of excellence. The quality of the sound is a high point of the album.

'4 Chords that Made a Million' has such an infectious tune that is was hard to get out of my head. 'Shesmovedon' is absolutely moving and of course had featured on other Porcupine Tree albums following this such as 'Deadwing' and many live albums. The lead break is incredible and rises to a crescendo.

It segues into an acoustic jangly passage and Wilson's vocals are mixed to the front, more intimate and not so distant and spacious as usual on the memorable title 'Last Chance To Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled'. Barbieri's keyboards are a beautiful chiming augmentation and the starman alien narrative is a nice touch adding to the atmosphere.

The album is the 6th studio album and, after some intricate lengthy spacey projects with huge epic pieces focussing on instrumentation over lyrics, this was a much more mature offering. The songs are short and memorable and I believe it was the beginning of worldwide success for the band. The floodgates well and truly broke open after this 2000 album with the likes of 3 masterpieces in a row, "In Absentia" 2002, "Deadwing" 2005 and "Fear of a Blank Planet" 2007.

The band were exploring new territory from "Signify" onward discarding the massive epic length tracks which had to happen in order to break into a more profitable market. The shift in style worked for the band and of course they have become one of the most well know bands in the prog circuit. The DVD "Arriving Somewhere" features a lot of past songs from the band's history and from "Lightbulb Sun" the intricate 'Hatesong' is chosen, a song showcasing the heavier side of the band especially the repeated awesome 7 note riff that drives the song with the odd time signature. The musicianship is always exceptional. The band have extraordinary talent and this album is the first truly consistent work in terms of musicianship and song structures.

The dreamier side of Porcupine Tree with strong acoustic flourishes is a major focus such as the lightweight 'Where We Would Be', the catchy 'How Is Your Life Today?' and the ethereal 'The Rest Will Flow'. The longer than 10 minutes track on the album, that became obligatory on Porcupine Tree works in more recent years, is the 13 minute 'Russia On Ice'. Unlike 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here', or 'Anesthetize', that are both works of brilliance and indispensable in Porcupine Tree's catalogue, 'Russia On Ice' is not as well known. In any case it still is a song with some epic playing and very powerful sections. It begins with spacey keyboards and a heavier guitar, slow and brooding, creeps along the temperate drums. Wilson's vocals sound like the post "In Absentia" tones, reflective and distant; "Can't stop myself drinking, can't stop being me, if I call will you come and will you save me?" The slow cadence is very relaxing but melancholic especially the guitars. The bassline becomes the main instrument in the mid section, and then a crunching metal distorted guitar enters. The rhythm locks in and the song changes into a metal style which is jarring, given all the ambience previously. The sound that follows is industrial like Gary Numan, with mechanised percussion and effects, and even the guitars are machinery like, especially at 10 minutes into it. A bell begins to toll after this lengthy instrumental section and the ambience returns.

The album closes with 'Feel So Low' which is lulling and dreamy. Wilson sings quietly "I can laugh about it now, but I hated every minute I was waiting for your email, and each day that you forgot to call, just made me feel so low, so low". Once again Wilson injects modern technology into his lyrics such as emails and later on "FOABP" the X-box. It is a soothing way to close the album, though Wilson is singing about a broken relationship.

At the end of this album one comes away feeling refreshed and satisfied as the music is uplifting and pleasant ear candy throughout. The best was yet to come but this is a solid album worthy of many repeated listens.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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