They say that breaking up is hard to do. But sometimes, it also makes for some really great music.
In the case of British prog-rock upstarts The Pineapple Thief, the title of their new album gives much of what it's about away before a single note is even heard.
Someone Here Is Missing is, according to The Pineapple Thief's chief songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Bruce Soord, "a record of dark edges full of love and regret…my life in the last eighteen months, pretty much." So yeah, move over Alanis, this appears to be Soord's breakup album. Hey, guys can cry too, right?
That being said, Someone Here Is Missing also represents The Pineapple Thief's most fully realized work to date. The songs on this album are more tightly constructed and exquisitely recorded than anything the band has done up until this point, while at the same time sacrificing none of their prog-rock cred. You'll find no post-Gabriel Genesis sort of selling out here. But what you will find is plenty of Bruce Soord pouring his heart all over his sleeve, and pretty much everything else in sight here.
With song titles like "Show A Little Love," "The State We're In," and, of course, the title track, it doesn't take a genius to see what inspired the songs on this album. The good news is that in between all of the lyrical heartbreak here, the band rises to the occasion like stallions and flexes their considerable musical muscle throughout.
The production on this album is also absolutely fabulous — often recalling the sort of channel separation that once made you want to lie in a closed-off room smack dab in the middle of a pair of Speakerlab towers back in the halcyon days of vinyl albums. In other words, do not download this album — at least not in those poor sounding MP3 formats. This is music that is meant to be played on a proper stereo system, and quite loudly at that.
Musically, the album moves rather effortlessly from the lilting melodies of its most obvious breakup song "Barely Breathing" ("I never said enough to make it up to you"), to the full-tilt metallic guitars of tracks like the title song and "Preparation for Meltdown" pretty much on a dime.
On the latter, lyrics like "they're burrowing within, and throttling my soul" are belied by haunting acoustic guitars before giving way to a full-on metallic assault reminiscent of some of Steven Wilson's (an obvious influence) heavier work with Porcupine Tree.
But bassist Jon Sykes is the guy who most earns his change here. On tracks like "3000 Days," the way that Sykes's bass lines dance around the metallic guitars and swelling keyboards recalls Chris Squire's most memorable work with Yes.
On "Show A Little Love," Sykes's bass throbs away in metronomic time, much like the broken heart Soord sings about in lines like "it's easy to see the walls are closing in for you and me," as metallic guitars and discordant synths hammer the point that much further home.
With Someone Here Is Missing, the Pineapple Thief continue to prove their mettle as one of the more promising new bands on the prog-rock scene, while growing by leaps and bounds as songwriters and studio technicians. Hopefully, enough folks will take notice of this album to mend poor old Bruce Soord's broken heart.