by Geoff Bailie
In simple terms, The Pineapple Thief’s newest album is some re-recordings of songs from their back catalogue. But that’s really only part of the story. With their first album stretching back to 1999, 2016’s Your Wilderness was a bit of a line in the sand, as Gavin Harrison debuted with the band on drums, and became a full time member thereafter. More than “just a drummer”, Harrison’s musical and arrangement expertise is a feature of his role in King Crimson, as well as Porcupine Tree. So here, band founder Bruce Soord allowed Harrison to pick some tracks from the band’s back catalogue and create new arrangements. Here are some of the highlights:
“Wretched Soul” kicks the album off in massive anthemic style – this is music that can challenge a “strict” rock format with some of its proggy touches, but is also brimming with musical ideas and melodic hooks. Meanwhile, the title track “Give It Back” begins with a great feature for Jon Sykes’ bass, just for the use of space and texture as well as technique. Many of the arrangements balance the essential elements and the space they need, with strong sonic textures – even if it weren’t for the great songs, this is an album you could enjoy just for how it sounds – and listening as I did to the 5.1 mix, you get an incredible insight into everything that’s going on in the tracks. The “I will give it back to you” ending of this is just incredible! You almost feel that you’re in the studio with the band or else at a live gig! It’s an amazing sound.
The strings and marimbas that start “Build A World” bring us to a completely different space. As the song shifts through the verses, the other instruments add to the sparseness of the first verse. Bruce Soord’s lyrical twists and approaches are always fascinating – “Build A World” begins almost as a love song – “I do it all for you my love”, but before long the singer is referring to “The awful things I’ve done to you that cannot be undone”. The final chorus switches from the singer saying he’ll “build a world for you” to “So build a world for me”. It’s got a bit of a sinister edge, but it’s full of depth and personality.
“Start Your Descent” has a spacious opening verse that draws the listener to Soord’s expressive vocal delivery – this time he’s working higher up in his range – shades of Bowie and Jeff Buckley here. The twist in this song happens halfway through when suddenly the song drops to a minor key. The ending creeps up in its intensity as Steve Kitch’s keyboards steer the song finally, Soord’s guitar builds and the “this is not what you” phrase loops and deteriorates.
The closing track “Little Man” is a poignant ending. Fans of the band will know this song is about Soord’s son who sadly passed away. It’s an incredibly touching and emotional song and really it can’t be followed – a beautiful and heartbreaking ending.
If you’ve never heard Pineapple Thief before, I’d say to you give this album a listen. It’s much more than old songs remade – the care and attention that’s been put into these versions makes it a really significant release that shows the band at its finest. Hats off too to a brilliant surround version on the blu ray – and if, as promised, the band delve back into creating remixed versions of the original albums that these songs come from, I’ll be joining the queue to get those.
Released on May 13th on Kscope Records
‘Give It Back’ Tracklisting
1. Wretched Soul (Rewired) [05:26]
2. Dead In The Water (Rewired) [04:43]
3. Shoot First (Rewired) [03:43]
4. Build A World (Rewired) [03:42]
5. Start Your Descent (Rewired) [04:23]
6. Give It Back (Rewired) [06:20] WATCH VIDEO (https://youtu.be/ZUx7Lr9QTLM)
7. Boxing Day (Rewired) [03:25]
8. Someone Pull Me Out (Rewired) [04:00]
9. Last Man Standing (Rewired) [05:15]
10. Little Man (Rewired) [03:51]
11. 137 (Rewired) [05:06]
12. Warm Seas (Rewired) [03:59]