THE PINEAPPLE THIEF – It Leads to This (Album Review)

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It’s been about 8 years since Gavin Harrison manned the drum stool for The Pineapple Thief and helped Bruce Soord’s band reach a new high-water mark of creative cohesion with 2016’s “Your Wilderness.” That masterpiece of melancholy served as the soundtrack to my divorce and established the band as a building force in the genre. It was an addictive, sorrow-soaked journey that balanced fragility with intricacy.

The inclusion of Gavin Harrison brought not only his brilliant resume of exceptional recordings and tours with Steven Wilson’s Porcupine Tree to the table but also brought something more. It brought a vibe. And The Pineapple Thief have been all the better for it since.

The subsequent release, “Dissolution,” was a solid step toward a more raucous sound, with “White Mist” in particular being a standing-out track. For me, 2020’s “Versions of the Truth,” was a mixed bag, with the search for some new sounds yielding inconsistent results. Then 2022’s “Give It Back” emerged, which featured songs from the pre-Harrison catalog re-recorded, giving Gavin an opportunity to add his magic. And while the record was interesting, the songwriting reflected Soord’s past more than his present or future.

In 2023, Soord released a wonderful solo record, Luminescence,” which demonstrated his blooming songwriting and production skills. And so, like a building crescendo for Soord and company, it has in fact all lead to this—a new studio record with a very clear identity that showcases the strengths of Soord’s evolution and his synergistic interaction with Harrison.

Much like with Porcupine Tree, Gavin Harrison is an essential contributor who plays a meticulously recorded drum set with a vast array of tasty nuances, fill, splashes, and a pocket so deep you will lose your marbles in it. In the spirit of legendary players like Jeff Porcaro, Neil Peart, and Mike Portnoy, one can listen to an entire record focused on the drums and be mesmerized.

That’s not to say he’s the only key contributor here. Just a particularly remarkable one. Bruce Soord must be recognized for his capacity to build up and tear down with a broad range of dynamics. At times delicate, and other times destructive, “It Leads to This” features outstanding production that showcases a dimensionality in volume and timbre that makes it the kind of CD I’d take to my local audiophile store to test speakers on.

Steve Kitch’s keyboards are Floydian and tasteful, creating mood and effect that serve the song more than the spotlight. The same can be said for Jon Sykes’ solid bass playing. The sound all gels well together, creating a Pineapple Thief “sound” that is consistent on the record without losing track-to-track distinction.

Bruce Soord’s distinct vocals might be viewed as a strength or weakness, depending on your tastes, with his vulnerability and falsetto harmony lines being someone reminiscent of Steven Wilson. This is not a criticism, but rather a reference point. I witnessed Soord opening for Wilson’s “Hand Cannot Erase” tour as a solo act, and the vibe was in perfect keeping with Wilson’s moody presentation.

Both bands’ initials are PT. Both are fueled by Gavin’s signature drums. Both are led by an emotional frontman, seemingly comfortable with expressing a depressed mindset in a beautiful way that turns pain into art. Both display flourishes of fantastic musicianship where odd time signatures are presented in a way that doesn’t compromise listenability. Fans of Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson will find much to like here.

“It Leads to This” is a grower, that reveals more nuance and strong melodies with multiple listens. “Put It Right” begins the record with a slinking, reserved opening that builds and floats slowly, drawing the listener into layers of keyboards that are rudely interrupted by Soord‘s brash electrical guitar chords. There is a definite “Deadwing” tone to this record, with certain moments almost feeling like a nod of respect, but not derivative.

“Rubicon” is the most angular, jagged series of verses on this record, creating a tension that releases beautifully with an easy-to-grasp chorus that is difficult not to move to. This track evokes a bit of a discomforting King Crimson feel with its odd-time signature stabs that are washed away by Soord‘s harmonies that circle back around.

“It Leads to This” is another work of dynamics that has a mesmerizing build and fall, with ominous keys sustaining the dark mood, while the drums and guitars dance around, expand and then seize, only to return again. There’s some good ear candy that a good set of headphones can reveal here.

“It Leads To This” Artwork

“The Frost,” which was the first single released, is a very strong track that provides a good cross section for this record, with its dynamic range, punchy production, and showcasing of what each band member contributes to The Pineapple Thief sound. The center section breaks down into a really tasteful instrumental passage where floating keys take the space where one might expect a guitar solo, and its reserve is tastefully executed. I thought the video was a good watch, as well, telling a bit of a story, rather than just showing random visuals.

“All That’s Left” has a familiarity to it. It would have been at home on “Your Wilderness.” Much like the rest of the record, it features some sonic slickery that pays dividends for focused listening. Gavin’s drum tones sound fantastic, and the audio mix of guitar, keys, bass, and drums come together very, very well.

“Now It’s Yours” is a brooding, lamenting track that features some repetitive lyrics and deft playing that is heavy on feel and shimmers like heat off a desert road until a sludgy lick traipses around in the center section while some sonic blasts in the distance explode. And then suddenly, the band is back to its delicate touch again.

“Every Trace of Us” is another exercise in pushing and pulling, with a bit heavier chorus and a busy workscape for Harrison. John Sykes’ bass playing rises above the pocket to demand being heard and the band builds up to a bit of a frenzy in the center section that will surely suit a live setting well.

Wrapping up the record is “To Forget,” which also feels like it could have been on “Your Wilderness.” Taking its time to breathe, the band masterfully morphs into a raging machine in the center section, with another passage that is reminiscent of Porcupine Tree, but all to this listener’s delight.

This brings me to my main complaint with the new release from The Pineapple Thief. It’s just too damn short! The band struck a vein of gold in songwriting, sound, and structure, and with it clocking in at 41 minutes, I feel like the band decided to adopt the old showbiz adage of “always leave them wanting more.”

They have done just that, and I wish there were three more tracks still to come that fit the mold made here because it’s a good one. Give it a couple of spins and let it fully sink inside your brain.

Released By: Kscope
Release Date: February 9th, 2024
Genre: Progressive Rock

Band Members:

  • Bruce Soord / Vocals, guitars
  • Gavin Harrison / Drums
  • Jon Sykes / Bass
  • Steve Kitch / Keyboards

“It Leads To This” track listing:

  1. Put It Right
  2. Rubicon
  3. It Leads to This
  4. The Frost
  5. All That’s Left
  6. Now It’s Yours
  7. Every Trace of Us
  8. To Forget

“It Leads To This” will be available in a multitude of formats that are as follows:

  • Limited Edition Deluxe 4 Disc set featuring:
    • DISC 1: CD Album
    • DISC 2: Bonus CD “Y Aqui Estamos” – Alternate Versions
    • DISC 3: Blu-ray – “It Leads To This” and bonus album “Y Aqui Estamos” (reworkings of album session recordings): Dolby Atmos-DTS-HD MA 5.1-24/48 PCM Stereo mixes created by Bruce Soord
    • DISC 4: DVD -: DTS 5.1-24/48 PCM Stereo
    • 52-page book 
  • Limited edition brick red vinyl LP  (exclusive to The Pineapple Thief and Kscope stores)
  • Limited edition green vinyl LP (exclusive to worldwide independent record shops)
  • Limited edition cream vinyl LP  (exclusive to Germany & Austria)
  • Blu Ray – Includes “It Leads To This” and bonus album “Y Aqui Estamos”. All in Hi-Res Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD 5.1, and stereo created by Bruce Soord
  • CD
  • LP
  • Digital & Dolby Atmos
8.5 Excellent

For fans of Porcupine Tree and melancholy, dynamic progressive rock, “It Leads to This” scratches an itch nicely and gets even better with additional listens

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8
  • Production 9

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