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The Pineapple Thief - Tightly Unwound CD (album) cover

TIGHTLY UNWOUND

The Pineapple Thief

 

Crossover Prog

3.64 | 202 ratings

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TCat
4 stars With the release of The Pineapple Thief's 8th album 'Tightly Unwound', released in 2008, we finally see them performing and writing better songs and melodies and venturing into a more progressive sound. Finally, Bruce Soord is moving away from the slow dragging tracks and allowing the guitars and keyboards to open up, but also offering more up beat tracks. Not only that, but on their slower tracks, the melodies are much more interesting and emotional, they are starting to achieve the beauty that they had a hard time finding previously because they were trying to sound too alternative, but coming out sounding embarrassingly whiney. That's not to say that everything they did previously was bad, but there were too many tracks that were just pathetically boring. Things were improving and more for the overall sound and not just occasionally. The album that was released in 2007, 'What We Have Sown', was actually a collection of material written for other albums but previously had been unused, so it really wasn't the improvement that many were looking for. However, this album was the real new album for the year and it did bring improvement.

'My Debt to You' is a good opener, even though it is not the most upbeat track to open with, it still carries itself well and gives you a good introduction to the band if its your first time hearing them. Right away, you should notice the similarities in vocal style with Thom Yorke from Radiohead and musical style similar to a more mellow Porcupine Tree. But they have their own distinctive style also, and that is also apparent. 'Shoot First' is the track that is more upbeat and more ear catching with the melody and hooks. This track is a bit more progressive, but still a bit on the light side. 'Sinners' has a less interesting melody and tends to side with a track on some of their weaker albums, but it does have the quick strumming similar to Porcupine Tree's 'Trains', but again, with a weaker melody. Through these first three tracks, you got that Radiohead vocal sound. Even though these are all tracks with radio friendly length, I find them better than some of the more lackluster efforts especially since they tend to have more life to them overall.

Next comes 'Sinners' with the processed vocals similar to what Steven Wilson does with his vocal effects. Again, the melody and musicality just isn't up to par with Porcupine Tree yet, but you can hear the influence anyway. On 'Tightly Wound' there is a big improvement because the track does build in intensity, so it doesn't drag like some of their slower and earlier tracks did, and the progressive tendency is much stronger also, so that is improving. 'The Sorry State' is quite melancholy, again starting with acoustic strumming and Soord does his higher register in the beginning, again reminiscent of Radiohead, but also with better attention to a better and more interesting melody. The instrumental break turns things up a notch with a great guitar interlude.

'My Bleeding Hand' surprises again with another upbeat track with what begins as alternative guitars, but intensifies. Soord's vocals are no longer dragging or as moan-y as he has been too many times in the past. 'Different World' is a 10+ minute track, and before you worry that they may fall into the same trap as before, that is producing a long track that fooled some into thinking it was a great progressive epic, and getting a lot of repetition or meandering instead, this time, things are better as in allowing for better movement among sections and again, the themes are better. Having said that, there are still some issues, but there is an obvious improvement. There is a lot less meandering around in a slow rut, things are more dynamic.

'And So Say All of You' sounds just like Steven Wilson's vocals. But, after a mellow start, it intensifies like a Porcupine Tree song, so that is a great thing, especially since it is a good song, but lacking a bit in development. Another epic track follows with the 14+ minute song 'Too Much to Lose'. The opening is simply beautiful with soft piano and synths with some nice effects and a nice vocal melody. After two verses, a guitar solo improvises off of the main theme. At 4 minutes, there is a change in the tone of the song as it darkens and intensifies. The guitar gets loud and fuzzy as it pounds towards a heavy section and is joined by ominous keys. Just before 7 minutes, everything drops out except for an echoing synth, then drums crash in with a more moderate rhythm, spooky keys and spoken word vocals set for an ominous section. About 10 minutes in, things fade and become a bit experimental for about a minute before the previous theme comes back in chiming in the guitars and synths. Then the whole band leads out the last part of the track with a rousing finale.

Overall, this album shows much better improvement and is a good step towards a more progressive sound from the band. It would also feature more emotional songs with better melodies and themes, and better flow in the longer tracks, not just made long by wasting time, but actually having substance in the longer tracks. There was still some room to work here, but for the most part, the moan-y alternative songs were being replaced with better dynamics and even some upbeat sections. I like this album much better than most of their earlier albums, and finally they seemed to be returning to the sound of their awesome album 'Variations on a Dream'.

TCat | 4/5 |

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