Music is always at its most powerful when it comes straight from the heart. Masters of precisely that honest and truthful art, The Pineapple Thief have been a consistent and reliable force for imaginative and emotionally affecting rock music for the last 15 years and now, as they release their tenth studio album, the band are truly blossoming into something extraordinary and very special.
Formed in 1999 by founder and chief songwriter Bruce Soord as an experimental bedroom project, The Pineapple Thief have pursued a distinctive and idiosyncratic path over the years; always evolving, always progressing, but never forgetting that the most potent weapon in any artist’s arsenal is the lovingly crafted song itself. Widely hailed as one of the most powerful and invigorating live rock bands the UK has produced in a long time, The Pineapple Thief of 2014 have refined and redefined their sound over and over again since those tentative early days. Recent albums like Someone Here Is Missing (2010) and All The Wars (2012) have contributed hugely to their reputation and renown, garnering frothing plaudits from the rock media and drawing in fans from across today’s vast alternative music spectrum.
“The band started as an experiment, really early on, and I had an ‘Anything goes!’ and ‘Throw it all in the pot!’ philosophy,” he recalls. “Then it went through a dreamy, layered period with much longer songs and more atmospherics. and then, as we started to play live, the sound started to become more refined and tighter. The striking thing about the new album is that there are no long tunes. It still has progressive influences, but all I care about now is writing a good song. I don’t think about whether it’s rock or progressive or commercial or anything like that. It’s just that as time went on, I discovered I could say everything I wanted to say within a shorter period of time.”
Recorded at Snap Studios and mixed at Strongroom Studios in London, The Pineapple Thief’s new album Magnolia represents the ultimate culmination of Bruce’s ongoing quest to raise spirits and touch hearts. A devastating but uplifting collection of 12 beautifully crafted songs, it showcases the band’s intuitive chemistry and soulful demeanour, cramming a vast array of emotional shades and inspirational ideas into its 47 mesmerising minutes. Veering from the strident opening assault of ‘Simple As That’ through to the cinematic sweep of the closing ‘Bond’, it marks another evolutionary step in the band’s story while skilfully encapsulating everything that has made their musical journey such a relentlessly fascinating one. As Bruce explains, a combination of fresh blood and collective rejuvenation has taken his band to new heights.
“As always, I just picked up the guitar and let inspiration take its course but in the back of my mind I wanted to get the heavy, live energy that we have as a band to come across on the record,” he states. “One of the deciding factors was that we got a new drummer, Dan Osborne. Unlike most drummers, he’s got a really good musical ear! He’s got a studio, he’s a songwriter and he’s brought a load of fresh energy. In a way he was the main producer for the album. It was refreshing to have someone to come back and guide the music. If there is a progression, it’s Dan who’s had a large part to play.”
With wonderfully fiery but elegant performances from Bruce, drummer Dan Osborne, bassist Jon Sykes and keyboard maestro Steve Kitch, plus sumptuous string arrangements courtesy of regular Thief collaborator Andrew Skeet and an immaculate final mix provided by engineer Adam Noble,Magnolia represents the best of everything that The Pineapple Thief have achieved to date. It is also the band’s most emotionally diverse and powerful album, with songs that harness the bewildering highs and lows that modern life hurls at us with alarming frequency and turns them into stirring, exquisitely truthful anthems that will surely resonate with everyone who hears them. Perhaps most powerful of all, the album’s glorious title track sums up that remarkable combination of lyrical reality and musical strength with heart-rending precision.
Few bands ever reach their tenth album. even fewer arrive at such an impressive milestone with their creative engines firing at full strength. The Pineapple Thief have not just surpassed every one of their previous records this time; they have raised the bar for emotional rock music in general, ploughing a unique and laudable furrow which fully deserves to see them propelled to the forefront of British rock and beyond. At a time when so much modern music aims low and shies away from depth, beauty or longevity, Magnolia is an album that arrives meticulously constructed to stand the test of time and to cement this band’s reputation as a truly cherishable one-off.
“All I ever wanted was to write catchy songs that stay with people,” Bruce concludes. “I just hope people listen and appreciate that. We’re all immensely proud of this album and we can’t wait to hit the road and play these songs for people.”
Dom Lawson – July 2014