What does it sound like?:
So, what to make of Steven Wilson’s new album, the follow up to the excellent Hand.Cannot.Erase.?
Well, it’s certainly not Hand part two – this is a much less overtly prog offering. However, that’s not to say it’s not as good – in fact it’s every bit that album’s equal, but in a subtly different way.
In interviews, Wilson has said that major influences on his thinking for this effort were So era Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush circa Hounds Of Love, Tears For Fears’ Seeds Of Love and Talk Talk’s Colour Of Spring. That is very apparent listening to this collection of adventurous but accessible pop songs with a prog influence, or maybe that should be prog songs with a pop influence.
The title track sets the scene, opening with atmospheric sound effects before the main body of the song hits you – a great opener, one that at times is reminiscent of the later Fish era Marillion albums, and one that bodes well for the rest of the album. Ninet Tayeb guests again on a couple of the strongest songs, Pariah and Refuge, her voice providing a great counterpoint to Wilson’s. Meanwhile probably the poppiest thing here, Permanating, puts one immediately in mind of Tears For Fears at their finest. (Perhaps one day his remix of their The Seeds Of Love album completed a few years back might see the light of day, although that presumably is out of his hands.) Lovers of the more prog oriented songs get their reward with the two lengthy closing songs, Detonation and Song Of Unborn, pieces that wouldn’t have been out of place on Hand or The Raven That Refused To Sing – excellent inventive compositions.
What does it all *mean*?
This is one of those albums that the more I play it, the more I like it. Although there’s certainly less of a prog sound, less guitars, than we’ve perhaps become used to, Wilson has certainly not thrown the baby out with the bathwater here as this is one of the albums of the year – pop and prog in perfect harmony.
Goes well with…
An evening sitting back and really immersing yourself in the music.
Might suit people who like…
Obviously Wilson’s previous work, but also the bands mentioned above – this is maybe his most accessible release to date, and one that may well introduce him to a whole new audience.