Bruce Soord’s work with The Pineapple Thief is widely lauded, with that band’s knack of cleverly mixing layered melodies and bombastic guitar – reminiscent of Muse – being at the core of their appeal. With their next studio album being readied for a 2016 release, Soord has created what is, officially at least, his debut solo album.
Of course the band’s first three releases were in fact the singer/guitarist recording alone in a studio, and as you might expect, the tracks gathered here call to mind the more delicate, heartfelt melancholia of Variations On A Dream, the third album he recorded under that moniker. It’s a deliberate ploy, and although Pineapple Thief albums aren’t exactly short of moments of warm poignancy, it’s refreshing to hear Soord’s soul-baring embellishing a more tranquil backdrop.
An appealing sentimentality has pervaded many Pineapple Thief lyrics – most notably the track Seasons Past on their last album, Magnolia – and it’s a theme Soord delights in pursuing here. Specifically, he delves into the troubling reality of the passage of time and the various fates of places central to his youth. It’s a dispiriting reality that many will feel a natural empathy with, yet it never succumbs to the “when I was a lad” school of granddad-style preaching, which would undoubtedly disarm the good intentions. For Soord, it’s the loss of those buildings, their memories and the inevitable transition in his Yeovil home town that provided the catalyst for the brooding Buried Here and Black Smoke. The similarly paced and pitched Willow Tree, with its gorgeous opening melody, takes a turn that confirms the album is special, with a brass section that stays the right side of mariachi propelling the song into an intriguing direction.
A captivating album that truly engages the emotions.
Those who adore the more unrestrained elements of his work with Pineapple Thief will find solace in Born In Delusion, which although mid-paced, has all the hallmarks and familiar vocal inflections that have adorned many of that band’s recent recordings. Split into two parts, Field Day is a proud centrepiece that’s almost Floydian in grandeur, with a string section enhancing the acoustic guitar motif. Its lyrics tinged with hints of regret, Familiar Pattern is, rather like the album itself, an unremitting emotional journey that never becomes maudlin.
For all the sadness, Bruce Soord is a captivating album that manages that rare feat of fully engaging the emotions of the listener. New releases regularly attract casual superlatives, yet for once, this is an album deserving of enormous praise. Soord has genuinely created something truly outstanding.