Intro: Eleni Panayiotou
Several Pineapple Thief songs are included in my playlists when I read, when I drive, when I am alone and just listen to music. I always find a connection point in a verse, in a riff, in a melody. They have this perfect balance of melancholy and hope.
Following the release of Magnolia, Dan Osborne left the band and was replaced by Gavin Harrison, a beloved artist with an amazing drumming style, who fitted in directly. The style of the albums that followed changed, the band acquired a different dynamism, and in my opinion Your Wilderness (2016) and Dissolution (2018) are two of their best releases. This year they released their 13th album and the third in a row with Gavin Harrison, entitled Versions of the Truth.
A soundtrack for this strange year
This year is really difficult, stormy, and a little more melancholic than what was “normal” for all of us. I guess the limitation and isolation, and the fear of these unprecedented situations affected each one of us and our psychology. This feeling was also created by Pineapple Thief’s own “versions of the truth”. A veil of mystery that covers reality, everyone interprets it in their own way, everyone has their own point of view, their own version. There is a pervasive bitterness, misinformation, violence, cries for help, remnants of broken relationships and principles. Everyone is anxiously searching for truth and hope. This is what this album describes.
Starting with the title track, the album seems to describe a dialogue, a lively confrontation between two people over the true version of the truth. It begins as a mystery movie, fog and sounds that resonate in the dark. Harrison’s drums and the traditional marimba determine the intensity and rhythm of the song. Slowly the tension and rhythm increase. The electric guitar screams or acquires a melodic repentant tone, as happens in discussions that end in a fight. It’s not how I remember it: the heroes quarrel. At the end of the track the keys are now exhausted and they desperately repeat the same melody. Is that how you remember it?
I don’t know what to say to you, the next song answers. There’s a more rock mood and dynamic rhythm from the beginning of Break it All. The electric guitar is the protagonist, and most of the song is a solo monologue, a delirium that is intensified by the effects in the background. Cause I got demons, he then confesses. The rhythm becomes funky, and this is one of the band’s catchiest songs to date. The guitars on this track, both acoustic and electric, reminded me of a mix between The Tea Party (Alhambra) and Pink Floyd (Marooned). The calm after the storm comes with Driving like Maniacs, a song more typical of their style. Melancholic keys and drums dominate in the foreground. The rhythm is calmer and the sound is more melodic. I gave you up, leave me be, states the next song. The western melody in Driving like Maniacs here is gradually transformed into sounds from an 80’s action movie. The highlight is a unique creepy guitar solo that gives way to a dynamic chase scene. I am coming to get you…
Too Many Voices is a simple piece of music and the shortest track on the album, where the melodic vocals dominate. The intensity returns with Our Mire, the most complex and progressive track on the album. The drums are breathtaking throughout the track, the sound on the guitars is clear and intense, dynamics go up and down throughout the song. The hero is once again in despair, his world is falling apart and he is being challenged – I didn’t want to wake up – but he still hopes – we have the key to survive. Out of Line is strongly reminiscent of the band’s first records, with melancholic melodies and fragile vocals. The same atmosphere, the same melancholy is evident in the wonderful Stop Making Sense. The melody follows a sad tune, but the marimba and the vocals give an almost happy tone.
And there was me and you all along. The Game, the last track, opens with Bruce’s sad voice. The anger and tension that existed in the previous tracks turn into sadness and bitterness, and the album ends as it began: melancholic and sad. The end of the story is left to everyone to interpret. At the end… it’s not a game anymore.
The production is excellent, as is in all of Pineapple Thief’s releases. Although their two previous releases may be a little better melodic and technical compared to this, Versions of the Truth is a great album. Many songs stick to mind, and several songs from this album will definitely be added to playlists. The band’s trademark melancholic style is everywhere. This is an album that will be of special importance to many, because it is like a soundtrack for these strange times.
9 / 10
This is the 13th record of The Pineapple Thief’s 20+ year career. That is enough time to start calling them an established name. However, they always have the aura of the young and that their next album is going to be a masterpiece. Dissolution was a great record and has many similarities with Versions of the Truth. Philosophical and social worries are presented through a more personal view that helps to make the melancholic atmosphere of the album more relatable. Balancing between pop-rock and prog rock, the 45 minutes of the album flow fast. So fast, you might actually need to listen to it 3 or 4 times before some ingenious instrumentation aspects stand out. Bruce Soord feels comfortable in the mid vocal range fitting perfectly the mood of the album. Gavin Harrison’s handprints are all over the instrumentation and it is nice to hear him again in a recording setting with a recording band (even though people who get to see him perform live with King Crimson are probably luckier). The longest track, Our Mire, with its more bouncy and complex structure and the Queen-like Stop Making Sense are two of the stand out tracks of the album. Is this the masterpiece that we expected? Probably not ,but maybe the next one…
7.5 / 10