The Pineapple Thief - It Leads to This

The Pineapple Thief – It Leads to This

The Pineapple Thief have been beguiling listeners since its roots as a Bruce Soord solo project in 1999. Bruce is clearly a busy man; aside from his burgeoning career in producing and remixing, he also released the diaphanously fragile solo album Luminescence in 2023. It Leads to This is the first album of original material by The Pineapple Thief since 2020’s Versions of the Truth, and we all know what happened for the couple of years after that. However, even in those strangely dislocated days, The Pineapple Thief still managed to release the very polished ‘live in the studio’ set Nothing But the Truth in 2021, and followed it up in 2022 with the re-imagination of older songs in Give it Back (Rewired). Some found Versions of the Truth a little underwhelming, and after re-treading old ground on Give it Back there have been murmurings from some quarters that perhaps The Pineapple Thief might be becoming a little repetitious or lacking in inspiration. So, what do we find with their latest album and how did it lead to this point?

It is reassuring to report that The Pineapple Thief have released a gem of an album, full of rich, emotionally laden songs. Bruce Soord’s plaintive voice graces a range of well-crafted pieces, embellished with subtle musical accents and tasteful flourishes. The Pineapple Thief have perfected an engaging formula in which they frame lyrical and musical ideas within relatively concise but imaginative songs (most in the four to five minute range, with one a shade under six minutes). There’s no flab or overindulgence here – it’s precise and measured with magnificent sound design and excellent performances all round. What is also notable is that all the songs are credited to both Bruce Soord and Gavin Harrison. Harrison began as a ‘hired gun’ on 2016’s impressive Your Wilderness, but he is now clearly integral to the band’s songwriting, indicating just how much the Porcupine Tree / King Crimson star is enjoying being involved, having more creative space for his own contributions. His percussive, arrangement and songwriting skills are resplendent on It Leads to This.

Long time fans of ‘The Thief’ can be reassured that this album is recognisably in the unique style developed by Bruce and the band, but they’ve honed it further in lustrous fashion, adding a growing sense of maturity and assurance to the songs. Album opener Put it Right commences with a stark plaintive vocal and piano before a finely judged bass from Jon Sykes and remarkably deft drums from Harrison. There is a political edge to some of this album with Put it Right focusing on our collective responsibility, and a sense that as we get older, we re-assess our lives – older, wiser and more full of pain. This beautiful song is in two halves with a crystalline opening highlighting Soord’s soft, desperate vocals. Steve Kitch’s sprinkles subtle piano motifs halfway through as the atmosphere builds and the clouds gather, with short splashes of guitar perhaps symbolising anxiety about the future: “In time we can work this out, in time…”. The subtlety, restraint and poise of this outstanding opening song characterises the feel of the album. Nevertheless, the following Rubicon is altogether more  frantic, forceful and guitar led, with great drumming and harmony vocals – it will be great to hopefully see this performed live on their imminent tour.

The title track, It Leads to This, combines quieter passages with more expansive rock moments, with an opening section in which Sykes and Harrison trip along lightly, underpinning Soord’s vocal. This exercise in dark and light rolls along until a great finale. Longer term fans of the band will be delighted to hear a throwback to some of The Thief’s more expansive musical forays, with the last minute or so dominated by spectral, soaring guitars… and then it’s over before it out stays its welcome.

The Frost blasts in with a thrumming riff, opening out with the characteristic ‘TPT Crunch’ which really develops later in the song – there are very distant echoes of the glorious 3000 Days from 2010’s Someone Here is Missing. Sometimes I wish they would let loose a little more in that fashion… but sometimes you just have to accept that bands move on to different pastures and you need to look forward rather than backwards at past glories. Bands that endlessly re-tread become stagnant. The Pineapple Thief’s mystifying and increasingly historic association with ‘Prog’ has always been rather a curiosity as they probably owe more to Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins than Pink Floyd, etc. – anyone expecting epic tracks with extended solos needs to look elsewhere. The sonic delights of this album are much more subtle and restrained, electing for brief impressionistic musical brushstrokes and accents amidst beautifully constructed and performed rock songs. The remarkable sound production on It Leads to This is crystal clear: shimmeringly fragile in the quieter passages and brimming with precise sonic power in other more forceful passages. That is a testament to the production, by the whole band, and to the mastering of keyboardist Steve Kitch.

Talking of stagnation, Now it’s Yours definitely harkens back to the melancholic introspection of the title track from Bruce Soord’s 2019 solo album All This Will Be Yours, in which he considered the decaying, stagnating state of his home town and the state of the world in which his children were growing up. As he shared in a recent interview, Bruce’s wife pointed out to him Now it’s Yours was effectively a follow up to that excellent previous solo song, contemplating the world they will be leaving their children. This is a sombre song filled with brief stabs of excoriating guitar before a downbeat ending, dripping with regret.

This album has a particularly strong ending with final song To Forget and the penultimate funkier Every Trace of Us, with Jon Sykes practically slapping his bass with brio and invention – I have always felt that the under-rated Sykes was The Pineapple Thief’s ‘secret weapon’ with his great bass playing and backing vocals. Soord recently revealed the songwriting process behind this song:

“The idea for this song came out of writing sessions I had with Gavin…  Gavin played me this idea he had come up with and I immediately connected with it, straight away humming what would become the verse. I went into another room with my guitar to try out some chorus ideas while Gavin was in his studio playing out the middle section. It was one of those moments where everything came together so quickly… Jon came up with the hooky chorus bass melody, Beren Matthews, our touring guitarist, added some brilliant guitar work, before Steve (keyboards) added his sonic icing on the cake.”

This insight shows that The Pineapple Thief is now much more of a band collaborating on songs, rather than Bruce Soord bringing the songs to the band to record, and there is an added strength in that shared process. Soord’s mention of Steve Kitch’s ‘sonic icing’ is also significant as his synth and keyboard contributions are essential elements in the chemistry of the sound of The Thief, especially threading through this album. It is also interesting to see that talented live guitarist Beren Matthews is now also contributing to studio albums, and on Every Trace of Us he certainly adds some memorable discordant guitar motifs. To Forget is a slow building jewel of a song, commencing with delicate acoustic guitars under Soord’s soft, yearning voice, joined by the crisp precision of Harrison’s percussion and drums. There is a real majesty to this elegant piece, with glistening splashes of guitar punctuating the calm rippling surface… until about halfway in when the bass, drums and more assertive guitar break the surface entirely. The hypnotic rhythm and Soord’s fragile voice return us to a shimmering pool of sounds with Kitch’s subtle keys chiming, before the whole piece rises dramatically, and then fades into the distance. It is a wonderfully atmospheric way to end the album, but as ever with The Pineapple Thief, it leads to this, doesn’t it?

It Leads to This is a superb album, full of succinct, impactful and emotional songs, performed with great skill and intuitive touch by a very talented band. 25 years into their career, The Pineapple Thief continue to provide thoughtful, inspirational music, and in the outstanding It Leads to This they have probably produced one of the best modern rock albums of 2024.

[You can read Leo Trimming’s live review from the current tour HERE]

01. Put it Right (5:31)
02. Rubicon (4:46)
03. It Leads to This (4:44)
04. The Frost (5:41)
05. All That’s Left (4:26)
06. Now it’s Yours (5:59)
07. Every Trace of Us (4:30)
08. To Forget (5:22)

Total Time – 40:45

Bruce Soord – Vocals, Guitars
Steve Kitch – Keyboards
Jon Sykes – Bass, Backing Vocals
Gavin Harrison – Drums, Percussion
~ With:
Beren Matthew – Additional Guitar, Backing Vocals

Record Label: Kscope
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 9th February 2024

• Abducting the Unicorn (1999) [Remastered & re-released as Abducted at Birth in 2015]
• 137 (2001) [Remastered & re-released as One Three Seven in 2013]
• Variations On a Dream (2003) [Remastered & re-released in 2011]
• 10 Stories Down (2005) [Remastered & re-released in 2011]
• What We Have Sown (2007) [Remastered, remixed & re-released in 2012]
• Tightly Wound (2008) [Remastered & re-released in 2013]
• 3000 Days (2009) [Compilation album]
• Someone Here is Missing (2010)
• All the Wars (2012)
• Magnolia (2014)
• Your Wilderness (2016)
• Dissolution (2018)
• Hold Our Fire (Live) (2019)
• Versions of the Truth (2020)
• Nothing But the Truth (Live in studio) (2021)
• Give it Back (Rewired) (2022) [Re-workings of older songs]
• How Did We Find Our Way: 1999 – 2006 (2023) [Deluxe Box Set Compilation]
• It Leads to This (2024)

The Pineapple Thief – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp (Kscope) | X