The world according to The Pineapple Thief is changing. In a recording career now stretching back 15 years their sound has been built around the key components of progressive and heavy rock music, often seeing the south Somerset four-piece bracketed with other neo-prog bands such as Marillion and their fellow label mates Porcupine Tree. But their tenth album Magnolia gives complete lie to that ancient proverb you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Elements of progressive, hard rock music still percolate through The Pineapple Thief’s veins – never more so than on album opener and new single ‘Simple As That’ and the blistering ‘Sense Of Fear’ – but where once there was a tendency towards excess and bombast now there is greater economy and eloquence. As founding member and principal songwriter Bruce Soord explains, there are no longer any long tunes. All he cares about now is writing good songs.
The triptych of ‘Don’t Tell Me’, the album’s title track and ‘Season’s Past’ is a perfect representation of how The Pineapple Thief’s sound has evolved. Wrapped in a swathe of Andrew Skeet’s strings – something the British composer and orchestrator has previously achieved to similar resounding effect with The Divine Comedy and Imogen Heap – the songs’ stirring arrangements and inherent tenderness nod towards some of the more baroque beauty on The Verve’s Urban Hymns.
On Magnolia Soord’s guitar is much more to the fore than has hitherto been the case. It is something he attributes to his Kemper Profiling Amp, through which he has channelled his imagination and realised the sounds that were inside his mind. His head must have been full of contagious, hook-laden songs then, because Magnolia delivers a dozen such gems. It is a record that could, and really should move The Pineapple Thief into the big time.
Magnolia is released on 15th September 2014 through Kscope.