2014, not a year that you would expect to still be hearing about Progressive Rock now would you? Most people when they hear something about Prog Rock in the media it’s always the classic 70’s era of the genre; The Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Rush etc etc blah blah blah always the same words repeated over and over on radio and television. You never hear about documentaries on the new bands of Prog, why?, because you will in forty years time possibly when some other form of music has been sweeping the globe and poisoning the minds of generations of that day. I only say poisoning because pop culture is as I have mentioned in several other blogs before, a clap trap. Something catchy to get you to part with your money either online or in-store that you will listen to a few times or a few thousand times and it never changes. Now that is to say that Prog never changes either BUT every now and then you will catch something in a song that you never heard before because you were so head first in to the album you missed something. Hell, even to this day I am discovering things in songs that I have easily heard over a thousand times already so with Prog it’s like life, you learn something new every day like learning to carry a spare key to your truck in your wallet! ; )
From Somerset, England UK comes “The Pineapple Thief” a band that was formed by Bruce Soord in 1999 and after a few attempts at getting it all together he released the first album, “Abducting the Unicorn” in ’99 on Cyclops records and the follow up in 2002 with “137“. Labels began to take notice of the music and Soord put a full band compliment together with friends who shared his musical interests to releasing 2004’s “12 Stories Down“. The band went through a couple of lineup changes and a few albums later we fast-forward to 2014 with the release of their last and most current album, “Magnolia“.
The deluxe double album edition is well worth the little extra to get as it comes with acoustic versions of songs on the first disc. Pineapple Thief is somewhat of an acquired taste musically and vocally as they aren’t a straight forward sounding band. A culmination of various styles, influences and deliverance of those ingredients combined make for a unique outcome of sound. Of course every band brings a wide variety of sound and style but usually a common thread is found as I’m sure there is with this band but their execution of their influences through their sound makes it that much more original. “Simple as That” opens up the record with a guitar riff that is just that, simple and the vocals come over top nicely creating a vibe of something more to come and it does around a minute in to the song when the rest of band dive-bomb their way in and it begins to take shape. Not too heavily distorted guitars allow room for the other instruments to breathe and get a piece of the action here. The band as a whole create a fuller sound better this way than if one instrument over-powered the rest. Short and punchy, a great way to welcome you to the album and the band. “Alone at Sea” chips and slaps musically as a skip feel to the beat and follows the full band sound again. By the third song the band comes around to being a bit more mellow and slows it down but still with a bit of a bounce in the ballad of “Don’t Tell Me“. The title track, “Magnolia” shuffles along nicely as a complimentary track as the signature sound of the band. Never over compensating one instrument for another the band evens out every facet of the songs to a harmonic balance bringing you the fullest sound possible. Keeping that full sound with the next few songs till we get to “Breathe” where the punch comes back in to the forefront and the song sways in and out of heaviness giving it the feeling of breathing itself, clever trick in music, the psychological angle of making the song feel like a natural occurrence in the body.
With songs that are considerably shorter than most songs in the Prog genre, none being over six minutes long it would possibly go past your eyes as a Prog album and more along the lines of a modern day mellow-medium rock record. It does contain many of the Prog recipe ingredients with the tempo, timbre changes and lyrical content but in spots falls a bit short on the musical arrangement factors. Some of these songs could have well exceeded the seven minute mark and been more epic in the style and composition. The band has matured and evolved over the last decade and a bit but fears of them becomming a mainstream rock outfit lurks in the shadows like many of their predecessors and forefathers in the genre. Bruce Soord took a break from the band and released a solo record, “Familiar Patterns” last year to get in touch with the more dreamier side of his writings and acoustic based songs. So the fate of the Pineapple Thief is currently up in the air at the moment but meanwhile back here on disc two……..
“The Fins Fan Me“, a favourite on the record shows an elegant side to the band with a very polished song and probably the best produced on the record in my opinion. Probably the Progiest song on the album and like many of the others the synth sound orchestration background reminds one of that Phil Spectre era of records with that BIG sound and influx of classical instruments of the 70’s and 80’s. A short fired off guitar solo compliments the song nicely and carries it to help it finish off on a soft low note. Acoustic renditions of; “The One You Left to Die“, “Seasons Past“, “Don’t Tell Me” and “Magnolia” grace disc two as an afterthought to the album and an appreciation for both versions of the song, it’s also a glimpse of what would become Soord’s solo album the following year. “Steal This Life” finishes off the record with good shuffle style acoustic number still in the traditions of the band’s sound. Previous records containing heavier and lengthier songs filled up space on the disc but the band shifted gears for this record and came out with shorter songs to accommodate the modern day audiences with something more palatable perhaps and a change for themselves to readjust their mindset for the next album to come from the Pineapple camp.
With hopes that the band continues to create music and reverts back to their more PROGgier side of things to fulfill TPT fans world over with what traces back to their harder edged material one can only hope and dream of such things. This is a great album to open up the doors of perception to The Pineapple Thief’s canon of albums and experience their music and then one can choose which direction to go with their records and how far and deep you wanted to go. Enjoy