Steven Wilson

To The Bone

Written by: LL on 28/02/2018 12:02:56

Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree have been at his solo career for ten years now, and with "To The Bone" this puts his output so far at five albums, all very different in scope. While his music is definitely still progressive, he has taken a turn for some poppier songwriting on his last few releases. "To The Bone" as a title marks this album as one focused on just simple, good craftsmanship and song structure. Thus, if you're one of the fans who kind of jumped off the wagon already on the previous full-length "Hand.Cannot.Erase.", there’s probably not much of a chance that you’re going to find what you’re looking for here. Still, "To The Bone", just as its predecessor, encompasses both catchy songwriting as well as progressive instrumental jam sessions and it is an enjoyable listen.

While simpler songs fill up Wilson’s latest record, it also means that most of them have a somewhat lighter feel than for instance say the soul-crushing melancholic and dark ballads of "The Raven That Refused To Sing". This doesn’t mean that there isn’t substance to find in the works here, it’s just wrapped in sonic textures that don't always make the songs feel as insistent as their lyrical content would like them to be. The ones that do hammer through, then, fall into two thematical categories. The first covers the ones that have political points. Especially the uptempo "People Who Eat Darkness" and the more winding "Detonation" that deal with terrorism from the actual perspective of a desperate terrorist make great impressions. As the longest track of the album, "Detonation" also gives the most space for the pure instrumental jamming that is such a joy to witness at Wilson's live shows.

In the other group, we have darker emotional themes that especially come to light in the electronically dominated and ominous "Song Of I" which is a duet with the German singer-songwriter Sophie Hunger. The more dreamy and shoegaze-influenced "Pariah" also shines in this department with a contribution by the Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb who has worked with Wilson on several albums by now. Both deal with being part of a couple in different ways that somehow both encompass a dark or destructive side. As a sharp contrast to these thematically dark songs, we find the insistently danceable track "Permanating" which Wilson has himself presented as the most catchy song he has written to date. It is also the most upliftingly positive we have heard from him ever but in its own way, its celebration of life has a place among the more brooding content he otherwise normally produces. More than anything on this record, this is probably the song that will divide his fans the most.

Altogether, then, there are definitely some noteworthy songs on this record although others slip through the cracks, mainly due to the lighter touch that makes them seem inconsequential and void of the usual melancholic depth that I primarily treasure in Wilson's songwriting. Still, with his already stellar song catalog in mind, it's nice to see him expand further all the time, both thematically and musically. The warm and light feel of the songs on this record is sure to breathe even more life into his already nuanced live sessions and the darker songs I have mentioned above are sure to take a place among his more memorable works although they can't compete with the very best of them.


Download: Pariah, Song Of I, People Who Eat Darkness, Detonation
For The Fans Of: Peter Gabriel, Talk Talk, Blackfield, Anathema, Porcupine Tree

Release date 18.08.2017
Caroline International

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