Tightly Unwound, The Pineapple Thief's excellent seventh album, is the first to be released on K-scope and that company's increased potential over previous record label Cyclops will hopefully raise the band's profile. They deserve a break as they are a first-class modern progressive rock band with roots going back to 1970s mellotron-inspired classic rock.
The Pineapple Thief (TPT to their fans) is Bruce Soord's band. Using the name as an outlet for his solo music, Abducting (1999) was the first album to be released. Encouraged by the critical and fans' response, Bruce released 137 in 2002. Responding to the demand for live shows he then formed a band under the same name and subsequently four more album have been released prior to this one: Variations on a Dream (2004), 10 Stories Down (2005), Little Man (2006) and What We Have Sown (2007). These albums have sold about 25,000 copies worldwide but the band have as yet rarely ventured outside of the UK for live performances.
Taking their inspiration from the 1970s classic mellotron-playing bands and, more recently, Radiohead, The Pineapple Thief have developed a soundscape broadly similar, although not influenced by, their contemporaries Porcupine Tree, to whom they are often compared. Certainly, most if not all Porcupine Tree fans would enjoy TPT's music. Personally, whilst I think both bands are very similar in their rhythmic structures, such that when they are giving it hey-ho on some heavy rock they sound like blood relations, TPT have more instrumentational inventiveness, they have both more pace and a greater variety of pace, they are richer melodically and their songs are not so "dark". Whether that makes them a better band is a matter for personal taste: all I'd say as a fan of both is that I recenly played Tightly Unwound twice with Fear of a Blank Planet sandwiched in-between and if I had to leave today for a desert island then it would be Tightly Unwound in the suit-case.
Tightly Unwound is an album that demands attention and that grows on you with repeated listening. It would appeal to fans not only of Porcupine Tree but also to fans of the mellotron playing bands that follow roughly the line of The Beatles-Moody Blues-Barclay James Harvest-The Strawbs-Radiohead (it's a rough line I'll grant you, but it is definately separate to the Yes-Genesis-IQ-Flower Kings type of line, fans of whose style of music are less likely to enjoy TPT's soundscape, unless they also crossover to the other bands of course). It might even appeal to metal fans who enjoy the eclecticism of Opeth's Watershed for instance, the soundscape of which is different (not surprising given the very different direction they have come from) but marked with the same inventiveness and adventure that TPT display, and there are enough consistently heavy passages on Tightly Unwound to appeal to that kind of taste.
It is a well-constructed album with a very "coherent" sound, courtesy mainly of the rhythmic backbone that knits the diverse tracks together. It starts and ends with two of the strongest compositions. The opener, "my debt to you", is sung to a simple accompaniment but the melody is beautiful and it contains a wistful, pretty mellotron solo - it's a catchy song. The finale is a 15-minute psychological thriller containing some stark dynamic contrasts, ethereal keyboards and great riffing: it never lets you off the hook despite its length. The other tracks I'd highlight would be: "shoot first", very melodic, lots of pace, dynamic changes; "my bleeding hand", simultaneously melodic and heavy, great guitar; and "different world", the other "opus", again cleverly constructed. Without a weak track to be heard, it all makes for a very strong album.
So, if you enjoy guitar that delivers a real punch, oodles of gorgeous keyboards, a stonking rhythm section and beautiful melody all arranged into some impressive, progressively minded music then you could do worse than give The Pineapple Thief's Tightly Unwound a try.
1) my debt to you (05:21)
2) shoot first (04:13)
3) sinners (04:52)
4) tightly wound (06:35)
5) the sorry state (04:11)
6) my bleeding hand (04:20)
7) different world (10:44)
8) and so say all of you (04:06)
9) too much to lose (15:12)