The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness [Finely Tuned]
In its period of rediscovery, The Pineapple Thief has returned with its eleventh studio album titled Your Wilderness. The progressive rock giants hailing from England have been a notable figure in the alternative music scene since they formed in 1999. Bruce Soord is the founder of the band and also the mastermind behind their music. The man who said, “The Pineapple Thief is greater than the sum of its parts”, is popular for his ambient guitar chops, tranquilizing vocal melodies, and great technical vision when it comes to mixing records in 5.1 surround sound.
In Your Wilderness, the songwriting is deliberate and fragile, with the instrumentation often swinging back to a bare minimum, before swelling again, like a rising tide. The record flows through a variety of moods and feelings, ranging from gentle introspection, through up-tempo rhythmic sections, and into deep contemplation.
The album consists of eight songs that are more or less held together by an underlying concept; the wilderness that lives in all of us. It refers to the human condition, and to the desolation and amazement that stem from the myriad possibilities that are presented to us in this life. The music also portrays human relationships – in the words of Bruce Soord “separation, estrangement, and reconciliation”. Whether those words refer to an intimate relationship, a friendship, or family ties is unclear, but that is besides the point. Your Wilderness speaks of life in its universal form, the life that is of importance to everybody.
Starting off to subtle drumming in ‘In Exile’, the band sets the mood by the time the second song arrives. Soord has called ‘No Man’s Land’, the track assigned as the album teaser, “a tale of two halves. It’s short but progressive and 100% The Pineapple Thief” – an apt description which applies to much if not all of Your Wilderness. ‘That Shore’, a pseudo-electronic ballad, treats the listener with blends of electronic frills overlaid on top of dreamy guitars, echoing drums, and the forlorn voice of Soord. ‘The Final Thing On My Mind’ easily stands out as the centerpiece of the album as an impressive composition which finds a natural conclusion in an extended arrangement which develops a second crescendo involving the sort of dynamic intensity which scarcely ever pays a call, yet allows for a more significant impact when it does. The emphasis remains on the creation of an envelope containing moments of controlled energy; an arrangement which is at the core of a captivating and introspective set which flows gently through the forty minute playing time.
As for giving credits where they are due, a major contributor to the album is Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree, who has produced, recorded, and performed the drums on Your Wilderness. The man is a true virtuoso and master of his instrument. Whether he’s laying low in the background or showing off his technique, he plays for the song, and adds an entirely new proportion to The Pineapple Thief.
This album has a pervasive concept, but this might be lost on the more casual listener who simply puts on this record to listen to it as an assortment of songs. The loose affiliation of the tracks with the universal theme, as well as the composition of radio-friendly rock songs might make the album’s message slip under the radar of the oblivious listener. This is not a terrible issue in itself, though. Your Wilderness is a captivating, dense, and a well-written record that might be enjoyed casually, but it does the album a disservice to not regard it within the scope of its theme.
Finely Tuned is The MIT Post’s weekly album review column. It is an attempt to add a new dimension to the way Manipal looks at music. Every week, we will bring you a fresh album; carefully picked from a catalogue composed of both critically acclaimed mainstream releases and noteworthy independent ones.