album list

Pineapple Thief, '137'

137  (2002,  71.30)  ****

Lay on the Tracks
Perpetual Night Shift
Kid Chameleon
Release the Tether
How Did We Find Our Way?
Warm Me
MD One
Pineapple Thief, 'Variations on a Dream'

Variations on a Dream  (2003,  63.00)  ****

We Subside
This Will Remain Unspoken
Vapour Trails
Run Me Through
The Bitter Pill
Resident Alien
Sooner or Later
Part Zero
Keep Dreaming
Remember Us
Pineapple Thief, '10 Stories Down'

12 Stories Down  [a.k.a. 10 Stories Down]  (2005,  66.58/60.23/118.53)  **½

Prey for Me
It's You and Me
The World I Always Dreamed of
From Where You're Standing
Slip Away
Watch the World (Turn Grey)
Catch the Jumping Fool
Start Your Descent
Take Our Hands
The Answers
[10... loses four tracks and adds:
Wretched Soul
Light Up Your Eyes part I - I
Light Up Your Eyes part II - Who
Early eds. add 8 Days Later:
Sunday - Crash
Monday - Sleep
Tuesday - Haboob
Wednesday - The Snail Song
Thursday - Fifty Four
Friday - 5 Minutes
Saturday - Reverse
Sunday - King Street]
Pineapple Thief, 'Little Man'

Little Man  (2006,  56.18)  **½

Dead in the Water
God Bless the Child
Wilting Violet
Run a Mile
Little Man
Boxing Day
God Bless the Children
We Love You
Pineapple Thief, 'What We Have Sown'

What We Have Sown  (2007,  57.31)  ***

All You Need to Know
Well I Think That's What You Said
Take Me With You
West Winds
Deep Blue World
What We Have Sown
Pineapple Thief, 'Tightly Unwound'

Tightly Unwound  (2008,  59.30)  **½

My Debt to You
Shoot First
The Sorry State
Tightly Wound
My Bleeding Hand
Different World
And So Say All of You
Too Much to Lose
Pineapple Thief, 'Someone Here is Missing'

Someone Here is Missing  (2010,  45.24)  **½

Nothing at Best
Wake Up the Dead
The State We're in
Preparation for Meltdown
Barely Breathing
Show a Little Love
Someone Here is Missing
3000 Days
So We Row
Pineapple Thief, 'All the Wars'

All the Wars  (2012,  45.07)  ***

Burning Pieces
Warm Seas
Last Man Standing
All the Wars
Build a World
Give it Back
Someone Pull Me Out
One More Step Away
Reaching Out
Pineapple Thief, 'Magnolia'

Magnolia  (2014,  46.17)  **½

Simple as That
Alone at Sea
Don't Tell Me
Seasons Past
Coming Home
The One You Left to Die
From Me
Sense of Fear
A Loneliness

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It seems Pineapple Thief started life as a Vulgar Unicorn side-project, lead by VU man Adrian Soord's brother Bruce; VU are supposed to have used Mellotron on a couple of later albums, although I've only heard their first two and it's quite certainly sampled anyway. It seems that PT's second and third releases, 137 and Variations on a Dream, both contain Mellotron samples, despite the sleeve credits for 'Mellotron'. So, are the credited Rhodes and Prophet 5 samples too? Anyway, both albums remind me strongly of that strand of modern British progressive that seems to emanate from the No-Man/Porcupine Tree axis and, specifically, Henry Fool. Moody, introverted music with more than a hint of Radiohead about it, PT disguise their uneasy listening with deceptively smooth tones, allowing the inherent edginess of their sound to creep up on the listener, unnerving them before they've realised what's happened. Variations on a Dream is probably the better of the two albums, as Soord develops his own style, which isn't to denigrate 137 in any way. I suspect the best track over both albums is Variations' closing 16-minute epic, Remember Us, although there's no such thing as a 'bad' track on either release.

Adrian Soord's 'Mellotron' can be heard on several tracks on each album; surely it can't have been that difficult to source a real one for recording? You get the impression that many of these bands couldn't actually care less; as long as an approximation of the sound's there, it's immaterial how it's produced. Perhaps they have a point. However, samples always seem to lose something in translation and are just that little bit too... perfect. However much of an arse-pain a real Mellotron can be to maintain, or even play, 'that' sound just doesn't sound right coming from anything else, especially when it's had its rough edges rounded off, not to mention being looped...

What's happened in such a short space of time? Admittedly, the reviews from here on are being written some years on from the two above, but has my taste changed so much in the meantime? Maybe it has. Anyway, 2005's 12 Stories Down (apparently a 'pre-release version), quickly reissued with a revised tracklisting as 10 Stories Down, is a dreary dirge of an album, the band's previous ability to captivate with their mournful Radioheadisms converted into an ability to bore the listener to distraction. Are there any plus points? Energetic opener (on both versions), the punning Prey For Me, while 12...'s Catch The Jumping Fool has its moments, as does 10...'s Light Up Your Eyes Part II, but as for the rest... Poor Mellotron string and choir samples on a couple of tracks, notably on Light Up Your Eyes Part II, but you really don't need to hear them. Early editions of 10... add a whole extra album, 8 Days Later (8 Days was an earlier bonus release), which might actually be better than its parent album. A couple of notable fakeotron tracks, with choirs and strings on Monday - Sleep and strings on Thursday - Fifty Four.

Little Man isn't any better, frankly, with next to no samplotron, merely some choppy strings on God Bless The Children. For some indefinable reason, 2007's What We Have Sown is a bit of an improvement, strangely, as it's effectively an odds'n'sods collection, rather than an album 'proper'. So why is it (marginally) better? Less heart-rending/breast-beating vocalising? Longer tracks (particularly the twenty minute-plus closing title track)? (Stop raising your eyebrows like that; sometimes longer IS better. So to speak). Anyway, an extra half star. Loads of fakeotron this time round, a major string part opening All You Need To Know, with more of the same on other tracks. 2008's Tightly Unwound is, well, it's another Pineapple Thief album, frankly. If you don't know what they sound like by now, you probably aren't going to bother. Some fakeotron work on a few tracks, but only the most cloth-eared would mistake it for the real thing.

By 2010's Someone Here is Missing, it seems that Pineapple Thief have honed their 'Scott Walker goes prog' style to a keen edge, particularly on closer So We Row, very much the album's best track. String parts on a few tracks are samplotronically inconclusive, although 3000 Days definitely features that familiar sound. 2012's All the Wars is a slight improvement on its predecessor, although nine-minute closer Reaching Out contains both the best and worst elements of the band's sound. Again, one lone samplotron track, with strings on Give It Back, standing out from the real strings on several other tracks. 2014's Magnolia sees the band settling into their prog-end-of-post-rock groove, for better or worse, chiefly the latter, sadly. It's at its best when the band up the volume levels - opener Simple As That, bits of Breathe, Sense Of Fear - but too much of the album's content drifts along a well-worn groove that we've already heard too many times. Possible samplotron strings on the title track, for what it's worth.

So; although I can cautiously recommended 137 and Variations on a Dream, admittedly not for those who can't stand anything that isn't 'uplifting', I can't say the same for the other titles here. Is there such a thing as 'downlifting'? File alongside Henry Fool and Radiohead.


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