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Do You Believe In Ghosts?
on 21 March 2005
As classic rock magazine recently said, Porcupine Tree are the most important band you've never heard of; Now onto their 9th studio album, their second on a major label, the band seems on the verge of bobbing above the commercial rock surface that they've floated just underneath for so many years.
Based on ideas from a ghost film script (not a full-blown concept album though) written by a friend of front man Steve Wilson (No Man, Blackfield, and many more projects), Deadwing is one of the more diverse albums the band has recorded, with more creative input from Colin Edwin (bass), Richard Barbieri (keyboards) and Gavin Harrison (drums) this time around.
The title track starts the experience with an electronic intro which leads up to the feet tapping main-riff. The band has carried on the heavier rock sound of 2002's In Absentia, but it's more blended into the overall sound this time. The track features some fantastic vocal contrasts, unlike any the band has done before.
Shallow, as Steve Wilson describes it, "is a big dumb rock song, done the Porcupine Tree way". It's probably the one song that will divide the long-standing fans opinion. Not the best on the album, but has received favourable radio airplay over in the U.S.
After the all-out-rock of the first two tracks, Lazarus calms things down; it's a really beautiful song, full of pianos and slide guitars. It really wouldn't sound out of place on mainstream radio alongside current pop acts like Keane and Coldplay.
Halo bring the sonic experience back into heavy rock territory, it's obviously a track Colin, Richard and Gavin gave a lot of input to - the drums, keyboard effects and bass are really prominent here.
Arriving Somewhere, But Not Here is my highlight of the album, it's pure perfection, all 12 minutes of it. It really showcases Steve Wilson's writing and vocal talents.
Mellotron Scratch suffers from coming directly after Arriving Somewhere.... It's by no means a bad song, it just hasn't quite grown on my yet.
Open Car, the shortest track, is a bit of a schizophrenic song, altering between hard riff and sublime sing-a-long chorus.
The Start of Something Beautiful starts exactly that, beautifully, and carries on; one of Barbieri's showcases. At the 4m50s point the song gets even better, entering into a more traditional PT sound heard on some of their previous albums.
And so we come to Glass Arm Shattering, which carries on the PT tradition of ending an album on a relaxing high, full of luscious harmonies, pianos and sound effects.
Now that we've addressed the songs, I suppose we better address that little word beginning with a P in Amazon's current description of the album.... Progressive.
This isn't progressive as in 70's Prog Rock. These days the term refers to music and bands which aren't afraid to stray from the 3 minute verse-chorus-verse structure. In that respect, yes you could describe this album as having progressive features. Some songs flow into each other, some don't.
It's probably at this point where I should say, you'll like this album if you're a fan of blah blah blah. I could do that, but the list would be far too long.
If you're a fan of intelligent rock music, and aren't afraid to stray beyond the mainstream 3 minute single, give this album a chance. Be warned though, as any PT fan will testify; One album is never enough. You'll soon find yourself hunting down their entire back catalogue, then all the side projects and then all the albums Steve Wilson has produced with other artists, and then dear reader, Mr Wilson will have you hooked for life!
You have been warned!