There’s something to be said for consistency.
Some bands figure out what works for them, and then run that formula into the ground. Others go out of the way to make radical changes from album to album. Bands like The Pineapple Thief take a third option: They have a sound that works for them, and continually allow that sound to develop, expand, and flourish. The sound may be familiar, but there’s more of it. Such is the impression left by the band’s new release, Dissolution (out on KScope August 31).
When Steven Wilson unofficially dissolved Porcupine Tree, I felt a void form in my art-rock world. Fortunately, Bruce Soord has stepped into that void, and made it his own. The singer/guitarist, along with Steve Kitch (keyboards), Jon Sykes (bass), and Gavin Harrison (drums) have created a marvelous new album centered around the theme of the modern world in the social media era. From Soord’s point of view, the world is much worse off because of Facebook, Twitter, and other sites like them. “The (album) title ties into how we’re now bound by this hideous technology that means everybody knows everything about everybody, and everything is played out in the open,” Soord says via the band’s press release. “And it’s horrible and invasive.”
Soord attempts to come to grips with the modern world, but is clearly struggling with it, as songs like “Try as I Might,” “Uncovering your Tracks,” and “Far Below” tend to indicate. Still, among the doom and gloom is some mighty fine music.
The music is all the more impressive when one considers the band was never in the same room at the same time. Each part was recorded individually, with the band communicating with each other as they did so. One might consider this approach a tad ironic, given the album’s central theme. Still, each musician’s contribution is both well presented and unobtrusive. Each instrument is allowed to shine without muddying anyone else’s contribution to the mix. This is truly a musician’s album, while one doesn’t have to be one to appreciate it.
Soord sees Dissolution as an evolution for the band, particularly because Harrison is now a full-time member of The Pineapple Thief, after touring with the band following their 2016 release, Your Wilderness. (Seriously, is there anything Harrison isn’t on these days? He was the drummer for Porcupine Tree, is one of the three current King Crimson drummers, and now this gig!) With a top-tier musician behind the kit, Soord deemed it necessary to raise the level of his songwriting. Not that his songwriting was all that shabby to begin with. Fans like me are obsessed with this band for a reason.
This is not to say The Pineapple Thief is identical to Porcupine Tree. I tend to see them as two sides of the same coin. Soord does not let his music get quite as heavy as Wilson did, even if both are deeply introspective songwriters. Plus, Soord’s sound continues to grow within the context of the band, where Wilson needed to go it alone to take things to a new level.
Given the nature of Dissolution‘s recording, I am eager to hear how the band puts things together live. Something tells me it will be a sight — and sound — to see. For now, the new album is a welcome addition to The Pineapple Thief’s catalog, well worthy of everything else fans have come to know and love. It is also a fine entry point for beginners looking to learn about this exciting band.
Dissolution is the sound of wonderfully consistent evolution.