Before drummer Gavin Harrison joined in 2016, Bruce Soord’s fragile, introspective songwriting had established The Pineapple Thief as a solid, if not show-stopping modern progressive rock outfit. With Harrison’s intricate imagination mingling with Soord’s fluid musical landscapes, the band have grown into so much more.
Interestingly, the magic on It Leads To This lies in the record’s tonal ambiguity. If their three previous albums can be compared to the weather then 2016’s Your Wilderness was desert sunshine on a still day, 2018’s Dissolution a cold winter’s night, and 2020’s Versions of the Truth an overcast morning in between showers of rain.
Their latest leaves the listener guessing as to whether its half-light skies are about to brighten into a new day or fall into an impenetrable darkness as its songs – which rise and fall around five minutes apiece – offer pensiveness and bite in balanced measure.
Every Trace Of Us begins with wavering clean guitars that are pushed through a vibrato effect before spilling into grooves that are musically optimistic, but lyrically pessimistic as Soord sings about cutting ‘a desperate figure through my heart... tearing every trace of us apart.’
Now It’s Yours is the bleakest track, distorting a smooth 60s guitar motif with droning chords and a towering sense of despair, its elongated and expressive solo well placed to offer respite. Indeed, throughout the record, which includes The Frost’s mangled blues rock riff and Rubicon’s agitated, overdriven rhythms, TPT find a way to take dark, heavy turns without unsettling the tenderness of the music. It’s all in the weight of the emotion and the grit beneath the riffs, which often threaten to explode but are purposefully held back.
These songs have been in the works for three years, with Soord admitting it’s growing ever harder to define what it is to be satisfied with the end product. He says he was pushed well beyond his creative limits as he, Harrison, bassist Jon Sykes and keyboardist Steve Kitch searched for that sensation.
Thankfully, the slow-burning results offer touches of nuance, beauty and snarl to make their turmoil worth it. Put It Right and To Forget top and tail the album with the barest performances, the prior defined by slowly wrung-out piano chords and Soord’s ruminating vocals, the latter characterised by rich acoustic guitars and swaying dynamics.
Together, they typify the record’s reserved songwriting, with these songs woven together with patience and care. No crescendo arrives unwarranted and no twist in the narrative detracts from the bigger picture: The Pineapple Thief have delivered a classy and very sombre collection.
It Leads To This is on sale now via Kscope in multiple formats.