Honesty is best. I liked the cover of Magnolia, I didn’t dislike the songs, but the music did not touch the nerve that goes ‘Woo Hoo’! Why not? Shrug! This time however, the spark is there. Okay, it sounds like, in no particular order, Riverside, Snow Patrol, Razorlight and a touch of Richard Ashcroft, but this is not to its detriment and Your Wilderness has enough of its own personality to stand up and be counted.
This one is different to Magnolia. I have the standard copy, I am informed that the deluxe version is more progressive. When this is the case I start to wonder if the standard buyers are short changed. In Exile opens, there is a rhythmic quality that to my lugholes repeats throughout the album, delightful drumming from Gavin Harrison, driving guitars by Bruce Soord and Darran Charles and a vocal that is in a slightly higher register than the rest of the album. I do not dislike it but it seems strange against the arrangements for the rest. It works though and since its release it has been a companion for the car.
There seems to be at times an underlying melody that inhabits and perhaps represents Your Wilderness, you might think that this would make the album feel samey throughout, but instead it holds it together as a coherent whole. Comparisons aside, it is an eloquent album both lyrically and in the way that the musical spirit moves, and now after a couple weeks I have not tired at all. Even the more ballad structure of the second track, No Man’s Land, carries the signature. First heard on Darren Reddick’s One Man & His Prog show, this was my introduction and enough for me to pre-order. It has not disappointed. It could be accused of being sing-a-long prog, but who cares? I have been mangling prog classics since what now feels like time began, and despite the requirement of mole grips to reach those notes on In Exile it feels as much a friend as The Cinema Show or Crime of the Century, to me a sign of good writing.
Tear You Up and That Shore continue the thread. There is comfort even in the sparse and lonely feel of the lyrics, it holds that sense of open spaces and a lonely road. Melody and a controlled rhythm from Gavin Harrison mean that for some it might be a tad too pop, and subject to its reappearance I must acquire the deluxe, more progressive, download. Take Your Shot delivers some nice guitar work as well as the balance that comes from other instrumentation.
Fend for Yourself again evokes a feel of solitary observation, and the clarinet of John Helliwell is just sublime.
The Final Thing on my Mind drifts into that Snow Patrol area, that said it is lovely, and that underlying melody again repeats. Repetition could be boring, but it isn’t, no idea why not but it just adds to that ‘listen to everything’ requirement that Your Wilderness brings. This is by far the longest track at over nine minutes, it is all over too soon and leaves me wanting more. The last track, Where We Stood, closes off a rounded album that I have been pleased to have purchased.
Music aside, the photographic artwork is great and continues on the inside of the CD sleeve and I love that the disc has its own inner sleeve giving just that more protection. The booklet is great, more beautiful images from Middle America. An LP in miniature. Not the longest of reviews but then The Pineapple Thief have made music that does not require the addition of my words.
So, as a critic, I comment and occasionally slash or stab at an album. I live by the sword, on this occasion, however, I am happy to be entertained by the Soord (EVERY pun intended).
It speaks for itself. Definite buy for 2016
01. In Exile (5:40)
02. No Man’s Land (4:20)
03. Tear You Up (4:53)
04. That Shore (4:36)
05. Take Your Shot (4:34)
06. Fend For Yourself (3:49)
07. The Final Thing On My Mind (9:52)
08. Where We Stood (3:46)
Total time – 41:30
Bruce Soord – Vocals & Guitars
Steve Kitch – Piano, Rhodes, Mellotron & Synths
Jon Sykes – Bass
Gavin Harrison – Drums & Percussion
Darran Charles – Guitars
Sarah Best, Kate Chapman, Ian Ring, Gareth Jones – Choir
Geoffrey Richardson – Violin, Viola & Cello
John Helliwell – Clarinet
Record Label: Kscope
Country of Origin: U.K.
Year of Release: 2016