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Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.02 | 1523 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Last chance to make a million?

With their previous album "Stupid dream", Porcupine Tree moved into more commercial musical areas. At the same time, they retained much of what made their back catalogue so appealing. "Lightbulb sun" continues that transition by combining several shorter, more accessible tracks with progressive rock structured pieces. Someone coming to Porcupine Tree for the first time via this album, and hearing tracks such as "Shesmovedon" and "Four chords which made a million" might wonder what all the fuss is about, especially in prog terms. These two songs, sequenced back to back, are among the most commercial the band has ever made. Both clearly have an eye on the singles market, with strong hooks and melodic choruses. There are other leanings towards the accessible too, "How is your life today" sounds at times like a reworking of the Beatles "She's leaving home", and the end of the track is reminiscent of the Stranglers out of character "Waltzinblack".

There are though more traditional Porcupine Tree songs too, with distinct Floydian influences. "Russia on ice" is a sprawling 13 minute piece, with a Roger Waters like baseline to start, and some fine lead guitar. This is one of three tracks on the album to feature a string section. Steve Wilson's apparent obsession with hate comes through yet again in the lyrics (see also "Hatesong" on this album and "Don't hate me" on "Stupid dream"). The alternating quiet and loud passages Wilson favours are present on tracks such as the title song, while the strange "Last chance to exit planet Earth.." has some good Jeff Beck like guitar. The final track, "Feels so low" sounds like a straight outtake from Pink Floyd's "The wall".

Whether the theme of the album (relationships and in particular the break-up of relationships) was in any way related to the acrimonious departure of Chris Maitland from the band, is a matter for speculation. Rumour has it that there was an actual fight between Maitland (who was replaced by Gavin Harrison), and Steve Wilson, although Wilson to this day refuses to confirm or deny this. He does however say that he and Maitland are now "good friends", and indeed they worked together recently on their "Blackfield" project

While the song writing credits for each track tend to be shared among the members, Wilson adopts a similar approach to Todd Rundgren with Utopia;. i.e. Wilson writes most of the songs by himself, and the band then develop them, sometimes through improvisation. Tracks such as "Russia on Ice" and "Intermediate Jesus" (from "Signify") came about in this way.

In summary, a rather eclectic mix of some of the most commercial songs Porcupine Tree have recorded, and a few more traditional PT numbers. Well worth investigation.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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