The Pineapple Thief – Magnolia by Tom Payne

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label: Kscope
Distributor/label URL: www.kscopemusic.com
Released: 15th September 2014

Pineapple Thief

Tracklisting:

1. Simple as That
2. Alone at Sea
3. Don’t Tell Me
4. Magnolia
5. Seasons Past
6. Coming Home
7. The One You Left to Die
8. Breathe
9. From Me
10. Sense of Fear
11. A Loneliness
12. Bond

Band line-up:

– Bruce Soord – Guitar and Vocals
– Dan Osborne – Drums
– Jon Sykes – Bass
– Steve Kitch – Keyboard

Additional Members:

– Andrew Skeet – Strings

Review

Formed in 1999 and standing today as one of the most seasoned and enduring keystones of the UK prog-rock scene, Somerset quartet, The Pineapple Thief, are 15 years into their careers issuing forth a tenth full-length, Magnolia. This anthemic, uplifting, and evolved release recorded and mixed at London’s Snap and Strongroom Studios by Adam Noble (responsible for works from Placebo, Paul McCartney, and Guillemots, among others) bears witness to the group breaking new musical territory following 2012’s acclaimed, All the Wars. They are here hoping to burst into the mainstream with this 47-minute creation, which in light of the LP’s vastly more minimal, refined, and straight-to-the-point nature is promising.

Responsible for much of the band’s new direction is drummer, Dan Osborne, who signals the first line-up change in almost a decade. A talented songwriter and close friend of founder and chief composer, Bruce Soord, his creative energy has been poured into the musical melting pot to produce something fundamentally different this time around. Think Muse or Biffy Clyro and you are on the right track.

Concerning the songwriting process for Magnolia Soord said “in the back of [his] mind [he] wanted to get the heavy, live energy that [The Pineapple Thief] have as a band to come across on the record”, and that genre and commercial constraints are secondary to writing “catchy songs that stay with people”. While it is clear from the outset that this is a less-layered, more raw, more stripped-back release, the development is so much more than that.

The floodgates open with its first single, “Simple as That”. A poignant and beautifully crafted number, rich with vocalised emotional shades and an insidiously catchy hook, this could not have been better chosen as Magnolia’s promising bait. Sing-along choruses of “please, let’s waste no more time” alongside “woo-ooo” moments would prove as fitting in a rock and metal night club as a stadium of undying fans. Follower, “Alone at Sea”, sustains the paradigm of its predecessor with its hugely exponential sound, atmospheric synth layers, and trenchant guitar riffing.

Soulful pieces best heard with your eyes closed feature here in equal measure with crushing anthems. The title track, for instance, features a collaboration with regular strings supporter, Andrew Skeet, of The Divine Comedy. While “A Loneliness”, “Coming Home”, and “From Me” follow the theme of mournful, soothing numbers. “Breathe” and “Sense of Fear” offering a reinvigorating contrast.

Ultimately, Magnolia stands in need of a completely new perspective from the listener. Though despite being a world away from their past material, the West Country boys have made sure to retain that heartfelt and emotive energy essential to any Thief release. It is new territory, but we will soon see how it plays on the stage when they return to our shores for a brief UK tour this winter.

Review By Tom Payne
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