Reviews

First Listen: Steven Wilson, “Personal Shopper”

Steven Wilson’s newest album, The Future Bites, has a tracklist and a tentative release date of June 12, 2020. We discuss our thoughts on the latest single, “Personal Shopper”.

Thomas

I first started listening to Porcupine Tree in the late 90s. So, a lot of my thoughts on Steven Wilson are based around my first exposure- Stupid Dream, no-man, the Voyage 34 era stuff. I find that a lot of people who started getting into Steven Wilson via Porcupine Tree post In Absentia feel like his pivoting towards pop is a huge departure. To me, it’s a sort of a coalescing of his influences over the years. Steven Wilson hasn’t really ever stopped writing pop songs- even when he was releasing brooding progressive metal, he was still writing pop songs with Blackfield. So this track doesn’t feel like a new version of Steven to me- it sounds more like a natural direction for his artistic growth and evolution.

I listened to this track 3-4 times this morning, and it’s grown on me. I especially like the chorus, with the lush, produced, Wilson-esque harmonies (the “Consumer of life…” part). I also think it’s been marketed particularly well, with a clever marketing campaign. Having Elton John on the track, to me, is a fun addition. It’s not my favorite single I’ve heard from Steven, but I think it’s a bold choice: a nine minute synth pop track (which appears to be the longest track on the album)as the lead single is pretty daring. To sum it up: It’s interesting and catchy, but not completely novel, which is fine for folks like me who have been a fan of Steven’s various projects over the years and are more used to him in a pop context. I am wondering whether this track will be representative of the rest of the album- I’ll wait around with everyone else and see.

Iris

Listened to it. I don’t dislike it. I’ve never been a fan of Steven Wilson constantly singing high notes, but the track itself is fine. Very synth pop, like the latest no-man album Love You To Bits. I guess Steven Wilson is trying to expand his boundaries in music and not trying to give in to “what fans want”. I think this album will be dedicated to today’s “absurd” society standards.

Xerxes

I’m not a big synth-pop guy, and while I think western commercialism is a rich field to plow, I’ve heard it done better. Didn’t love it.

Rylee

It reminds me a lot of early PT tracks like “Synesthesia” but with a more modern message. I really enjoyed it. The production is fantastic too. Listening in really good headphones is a very rewarding experience with this track.

What do you think? Post in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “First Listen: Steven Wilson, “Personal Shopper”

  1. I listened a few times, but for the first time i don’t like it. To be honest also the song permanating on his last album was not good in my opinion. Het tries some 80 neo-prog-techno but it’s done so much better already by other bands. And that falcetto singing sounds awfull. Also that i didn’t like on his last album. First i thought it was all a joke. This music, his wife, Elton John! But it seems to be real. I think SW tries to create a too large middle of the road fanbase, and he is getting to commercial. Another sign of that are the big shows in big halls later this year. But I hope I am wrong and that the rest of the album will be great.

    Like

  2. My reaction upon first listen was a firm ‘Meh.’ It’s not new, and it doesn’t take Wilson’s music in bold new directions. Unless you’re a prog fan who expects everything to sound like Pink Floyd or Yes, it’s really kinda old hat.

    Radiohead was far more innovative merging electronics with rock, and that was nearly twenty years ago. Young artists like FKA Twigs are releasing far more creative material. I hate to point to someone who is (gasp!) popular, but even Billie Eilish is more interesting

    This sounds like Jesus Jones crossed with Nine Inch Nails. The lyrics aren’t particularly insightful, either. Consumerism has been done to death – but at least there are no embarrassing clunker lyrics about Facebook or Prada trainers.

    I hope the rest of the album is better. I remember saying the same thing after hearing the first few songs from To the Bone, as well – and sadly, that wasn’t to be.

    Like

  3. Just when we thought Steven Wilson was a Prog god, he’s turning into a pop star. He must have taken lessons from Phil Collins. I too have been a fan since Stupid Dream, but his recent efforts are a little too poppy for my tastes. Hope the rest of the LP doesnt sound like this. Give me Raven any day of the week.

    Like

  4. Just heard this via my daughter who loves PT circa 96 onwards and has The Raven on vinyl. I own more of less everything that SW has released under his many different guides over the many years. My reaction was one of horror. The last album I only played once since I had the deluxe edition delivered on release day. If I wanted to hear Talk Talk then I will play their albums, now with this new one it’s like some ghastly attempt for one last above for major mainstream approval, it’s horrible.
    This is vacuous 90s cheese e.g. Jesus Jones meets Aqua. Sorry SW you just lost one long term fan. I loved Insurgentes and Grace for drowning but this is like the emperor s new clothes ! Why are you chasing the money when the consumerist themes have been done to death years ago. Electronica and pop is hardly breaking new ground is it. New Order etc all have been there way before you. Sure keep progressing but this is not music I like so count me out.
    PS I don’t just listen to early 70s Genesis or Yes either.

    Like

  5. I love this! If I avoid the impulse to label it or compare to this or that, I find it smart and uniquely SW. I am welcoming success for Steven Wilson! The idea of SW turning the music world onto his genuis and achieving a broader audience is welcome excitement for this hsrdcore fan! I have seen Steven countless times live and have all of his recordings as well as remixesbof other artist. The guy is simply genius as far as I’m concerned. I have watched him calculate his moves towards a more accessible sound, building over time like one of his master compositions. It doesn’t offend me nor am I saddened by his commercially accessible musical direction. I hear something happening on a grander scale than mentioned comparisons such as Talk Talk or Bananaramma…It has echoes of Bowie meets, well Steven Wilson. No matter if he reaches a wider audience, his music turns less brooding and slightly brighter. Ww will always have his catalog to enjoy and he will always play from these live for all of us nostalia junkies. Meanwhile he will blaze new trails. I gor one am slong for the ride.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.