Following 2020’s acclaimed Versions Of The Truth, The Pineapple Thief continue their domination of Europe’s experimental rock scene with a new album of eight original songs. Recorded between September 2020 and July 2023, It Leads To This is the band’s 14th overall studio outing and fourth to feature Gavin Harrison’s drumming.

Three-and-a-half years may seem like a long gap between albums, but the band have certainly remained occupied in the interim. In May 2022, they released Give It Back–a collection of reworked songs from past albums–and then followed that up with the massive How Did We Find Our Way box set in June 2023, covering their entire recorded output from 1999-2006. Plus, frontman Bruce Soord’s third solo album Luminescence was released in September 2023.

It Leads To This is available in a variety of physical packages, including vinyl CD, and an audio-only Blu-Ray disc with high-resolution 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos immersive mixes. The Dolby Atmos mix is also available to stream on Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music.

It Leads To This continues the thrilling reinvention of the band that began with 2016’s Your Wilderness. Compared to prior albums from the pre-Harrison era–like 2010’s Someone Here Is Missing or 2012’s All The Wars–their sound is somewhat earthier and stripped-down, with a lot more space in the arrangements. It perhaps veers towards the mellower side of the progressive/art rock spectrum, but there’s an uneasy, ominous feeling constantly underpinning the proceedings.

For my money, Bruce Soord is definitely one of the best mixers working today. This is about as close as you can get to “audiophile rock”–the individual elements in each song are all crystal clear, with just enough energy at both ends of the spectrum to keep things raw and exciting without listening fatigue. When the power cuts in on “The Frost,” you can really feel the impact and weight of the band. Even in the heaviest passages, like the chorus to "Rubicon," it never gets harsh. If only all modern rock productions sounded this good!

The 5.1 mixes are up to his usual high standard, with the rhythm section and lead vocal kept upfront while additional elements like keyboards, backing vocals, rhythm and lead guitar lines, as well as percussion are usually assigned to the rear speakers. There are even some fun passages with moving elements, like the leslie-processed keys swirling around throughout “Every Trace Of Us.”

“We worked on these new songs for nearly 3 years. It was the most intense time I can remember within The Pineapple Thief. Personally I was being pushed well beyond my known limits, which is great from an artistic perspective but also very very challenging from a personal perspective. The initial concept for the songs came together very quickly but the final lyrical and musical elements took a huge amount of work to piece together between the four of us, at least to a point where we were all satisfied. After so long in the business, being ‘satisfied’ is constantly being pushed further, constantly redefined. That’s the thing, we just kept pushing…"

Bruce Soord, 2023

All that being said, it’s the Dolby Atmos option that offers the definitive immersive audio experience. The soundstage is quite different from the 5.1, no doubt due to the additional spatial positioning options that come with having even more speakers to play with. Soord remains one of the few mixers to really take advantage of all the possibilities that object-based immersive audio offers. Though some individual sounds do appear largely isolated in specific speakers, other elements seem to float out into the room with pinpoint accuracy. 

Lead vocals seem to hover right in front of your face, suspended between the front, side, and front height speaker pairs. Gavin Harrison’s drums similarly project upwards from the front stage, with reverbs and delays hitting off the back wall. Main guitar parts (such as the recurring riff throughout “The Frost”) tend to take up residence in the front heights, while additional rhythmic parts such as the acoustic strumming that opens “To Forget” appear from behind. Double-tracked and harmony vocals often pop out of the rear heights, along with additional percussion such as the electronic tom-toms in the title track.

The Blu-Ray edition not only contains high-resolution stereo, 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos mixes of It Leads To This, but also those same three audio options for the ‘bonus album’ Y Aqui Estamos. The bonus album is composed of alternate versions of seven out of the eight album tracks (omitting only “Now It’s Yours”), plus an extra song called “All Because Of Me.”

Whereas Your Wilderness, Dissolution (2018), and Soord’s solo album All This Will Be Yours (2019) all included ‘acoustic reworkings’ in 5.1 surround sound, Versions Of The Truth flipped the script for its bonus album by instead showcases Gavin Harrison’s nord drum percussion for a completely unique result. Y Aqui Estamos fuses both approaches, featuring Harrison’s electronic percussion in tandem with some truly awe-inspiring flamenco guitar parts.

These versions are almost overwhelming when presented in 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos, with the layers of acoustic guitar, percussion, and vocal scattered all around the listening space. I’m not sure if I prefer these to the full band versions, but they make for a fascinating alternative experience.

Overall, It Leads To This marks another great entry in a series of excellent works from one of my very favorite bands. Soord, Harrison, and the rest of the band remain at the top of their game lyrically, compositionally, and performance-wise. The only disappointment for me is that at least for the time being, it appears they won’t be touring the United States in 2024.

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About the Author
Jonathan is an audio engineering enthusiast from New York with a passion for immersive audio, having amassed a formidable collection of multichannel optical discs and quadraphonic vinyl. He earned his undergraduate degree in Television-Radio from Ithaca College and Master's degree in Audio Technology from American University.