Having released 10 albums, The Pineapple Thief has what so many aspiring musicians long for: a following and a label. This has provided the band a certain degree of freedom in the creating albums department. So, with their 11th album, Your Wilderness, the band has opted for a more atmospheric sound than the previous couple of albums. “I can’t believe we’re still doing it. I think that’s one of the big reasons we changed direction slightly this time, with a nod to more atmospheric sounds … it’s less focused towards anthemic crowd-pleasers or radio hits.” So states band leader Bruce Soord, who together with keyboardist Steve Kitch and Bassist Jon Sykes have created an album that is a genuine pleasure to hear.
Unlike previous albums, Your Wilderness welcomes a number of guest performers including drummer Gavin Harrison (who contributes drums throughout the album), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan) and Darran Charles (Godsticks). These musicians have made noticeable contributions to the album and as a result Your Wilderness has some of the strongest instrumentation to be found in any Pineapple Thief Album. Your Wilderness does a wonderful job of balancing technical brilliance with musicality and Soord and company deserve the praise that they will undoubtedly receive.
While Soord refers to the album as being more atmospheric, it is important to point out that this is not merely an album for mediation. The album essentially alternates between the intimate/introspective and more up-tempo rock tracks. It’s an approach that reminds me of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, which interrupted heavier material with shorter, acoustic numbers. Among the mellow tracks, “Fend for Yourself” is a real standout, featuring a wonderful clarinet solo provided by John Helliwell. Among the rock-ier numbers, Track 3, “Tear You Up”, brings excellent energy as it opens with a bombastic guitar/drum figure that is reintroduced in between verse and chorus and returns for the extended outro.
Clocking in at ten minutes, “The Final Thing on Your Mind” is nearly twice as long as any other song on the album. The first approximately four minutes are essentially a single, gradual crescendo, followed by an abrupt stop as the song resets itself, even more subdued than it began. At the place the other songs on the album ends, “The Final Thing on Your Mind” continues through an extended arrangement that builds towards a second crescendo that pays off nicely at the end. The song is remarkably unpretentious while remaining interesting to listen to.
While Soord states that the band didn’t write anything intended to be a single, outside of “The Final Thing on Your Mind”, every track on the album is between 3:46 and 5:40 in length and features very approachable vocal melodies. Vocally, Soord still sounds somewhere between Thom Yorke and Steven Wilson, and it is clear that he knows well how to write for himself as the melodies fit his delivery perfectly. Over the last few albums, and particularly his recent solo effort, it appears to this reviewer that Soord’s songwriting has matured, and no more is that more apparent than on this album. In sum, Your Wilderness will please fans of the band and for those unfamiliar, Your Wilderness is a friendly place to get to know one another.