It really doesn’t seem possible that it has been nine years since The Pineapple Thief’s first album Abducting the Unicorn appeared. At that time and following such an impressive debut Pineapple Thief became a definite one to watch on the progressive rock scene. Since then they have released roughly an album a year with five further albums including 2002’s 137, Variations On A Dream (2004), 10 Stories Down (2005), Little Man (2006) and last years What We Have Sown. This year saw the release of Tightly Unwound Pineapple Thief’s seventh but the first one on the K-Scope label (part of Snapper records).
There was a time when Pineapple Thief could easily have been described as a well kept secret within modern prog-rock circles. They have a growing and loyal following but it has taken a while for them to start to break down boundaries and spread their music to a wider audience. Pineapple Thief was the idea of Somerset’s songwriter, singer/guitarist and keyboard player Bruce Soord and was very much his own solo project. Once it started to take off and the fans demanded live shows he built up a full band. 10 Stories Down was the first album released with the new set-up. There have been line up changes since but today the band consists of Soord, bassist John Sykes, drummer Keith Harrison and keyboard player Steve Kitch. At last Pineapple Thief have started to gain more acclaim and notice particularly in the last three years. It was against a background of eager anticipation that Tightly Unwound was released.
Pineapple Thief have honed a sound that is now very much their own but within it can be found influences such as Porcupine Tree and Radiohead (of the OK Computer and The Bends era). With a tendency to write gentle and melodically pleasing tracks Soord cleverly injects sudden shifts of gear towards electric riffs and an all round harder edge. That makes the first listen to any new Pineapple Thief album an interesting and sometimes surprising experience. A good example is contained within the opening two tracks “Debt to You” – gentle, smooth, satisfyingly melodic and simple yet effective. Meanwhile the edgy and up tempo “Shoot First” opens with a cascading power as the riffs begin to kick in among a memorable chorus and typically excellent vocals. Opening out into an atmospheric mid-section, the two tracks highlight why you can’t read a review about Pineapple Thief without the phrase ‘bitter sweet’ appearing. The reason being, of course, is their music is exactly that and contains cleverly constructed elements of both, meshing together, to produce some of the most effective examples of modern progressive music.