I’ve been mulling over my iTunes recently looking for something new to listen to. Insert The Pineapple Thief, a band I love, but haven’t been showing much love lately. Drawing comparisons to top-notch progressive rock bands like Porcupine Tree, Katatonia, and Nosound, and indie/experimental bands like Death Cab For Cutie and Radiohead, any listener of the band can easily hear these influences throughout each of their albums. All of them are quite amazing pieces of art, but I cannot help but repeat their latest album “Magnolia.”
Residing in England, The Pineapple Thief consists of Bruce Soord on vocals/guitar, Jon Sykes on bass guitar, Steve Kitch on keyboards, and Dan Osborne on the drums. Another one of those bands that falls into that post-progressive/indie/alternative sound, The Pineapple Thief has a sizeable discography of ten albums. Having been around for over 15 years, listener can have their pick of the litter when it comes to selecting great music. I feel their most recent “Magnolia” shows the band at its finest, but displays a band transitioning away from their progressive influences.
Leaning more towards a straightforward rock sound than any of their prior works, “Magnolia” serves as the perfect introductory record to newcomers. Lasting only 46 minutes (an unusually short album by prog’s standards), the overall downbeat nature of this album restrains the band, and prevents them from being too showy. No song is over six minutes long, leaving off any chance for a potential epic like “Light Up Your Eyes” or “P.V.S.” The album also lacks experimentation found in previous albums, focusing more on mainstream songwriting. Sure, the album starts off with a bang, featuring the powerful choruses of “Simple As That” and “Alone At Sea.” From this point, the album takes a turn with four gentle songs in a row, including the album’s title track. It’s this stretch that reminds me the most of Porcupine Tree from the 90’s. The slide guitar, the effect-driven clean guitar, the overall simpler song structure; it’s very relaxing, but also serves as the lone fault on this record, which I’ll mention later. It isn’t until “The One You Left To Die” plays that the listener is sucked back into the heaviness of the album.
Being my personal favorite song off the album, “The One You Left To Die” contains that cliché British sound that is apparent in records ranging from present day bands like Muse and Coldplay to as far back as the Beatles. The bass line that takes center stage from the beginning, the quick notes struck by symphonic instruments, and the emotional vocals all set up the upbeat chorus. Even the following song “Breathe” acts as a sister-song, containing much of the same themes and tones as the prior. The passionate vocals in these two songs are the driving force of this album, especially the chorus in “The One You Left To Die”:
“The one you loved returning, the one you left to die / You’ll never stop, you’re searching for/ The one you know has died.”
“Magnolia,” although a beautiful album, is far softer and simpler than typical progressive rock albums. In fact, if you aren’t paying enough attention, it’ll pass by unnoticed. I’m not sure if it’s because of the track order, or simply the presence of too many softer songs, but the album is relatively quiet and choppy. One could even argue that many of the songs follow the same formula, which I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with. Besides “The One You Left To Die,” I couldn’t recall any other memorable song off the album. With all those concerns, this album definitely needs to be listened to multiple times to achieve the desired effect. Each song does have it’s own unique flavor, but is meant to be listened to as a whole instead of its individual parts. With its modest approach, The Pineapple Thief have written an effective record that can please old fans and discover new audiences.
I’d recommend The Pineapple Thief’s “Magnolia” to fans of progressive and indie rock bands in general, including projects by Steven Wilson and Eric Baule. It’s soft and catchy, the perfect album to play at your desk job. You can support The Pineapple Thief by checking out their website, or by following them on Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to whatever’s next from them. Knowing what they’re capable of from their discography, I know whatever they decide to release will be amazing.