The Pineapple Thief’s latest foray into prog-rock for the 21st century, Versions of the Truth, comes gloriously mixed in surround sound. The enigma behind The Pineapple Thief, Bruce Soord, is no stranger to the format, having released his 2019 solo album All This Will Be Yours with a 5.1 mix, to the approval of audiophiles everywhere.
Soord’s solo effort was driven by acoustic guitar, leaving space for the prolific songwriter to experiment with texture and ambiance. The swirling textures, synth pads, and delayed effects seem to have stayed with him. They subtly encroach into the mix throughout Versions of the Truth, almost unnoticed in the space of a 5.1 mix, adding atmosphere and character throughout.
The opener and title track starts with a minimal feel, gradually building to a hook reminiscent of a barnstorming Biffy Clyro anthem.
Themes from the opening track continue into “Break It All” with delayed guitar chops encircling the mix, and intricate yet choppy drumming, sometimes using triplet patterns to alter the groove.
The band is not afraid of an unorthodox time signature, but the focus on “verse, chorus” structure means there is always a hook to latch onto, rather than getting lost in the experimentation and the “prog” vibe.
“Demons” and “Driving Like Maniacs” slow the album down, as vocal harmonies and melancholic melodies are reminiscent of bands like Radiohead, who are surely influences for The Pineapple Thief’s project.
“Too Many Voices” continues the thoughtful and melancholic theme. Minimal, cleanly mixed and emotive. The Biffy Clyro comparison is, once again, hard to ignore, but this track has a “Many of Horror” ballad feel to it.
The album breezes through some more signature Pineapple Thief songs, “Our Mire” and “Out of Line,” but it is in the intriguing, pensive, and even exotic “Stop Making Sense” that the 5.1 mix really rears its head again. The track has incredible dynamics, breaking down to minimalist vibraphone and vocals for an intimate, almost haunting feel. A real highlight of the surround sound, immersive mix.
The haunting, downtempo, and frankly unsettling qualities continue into the finale, “The Game.” This is one of those albums that has an incredible feeling of resolution as the huge final chorus releases the tension built up in the previous few tracks for a really satisfying, almost euphoric conclusion.
Versions of the Truth fits perfectly in the 2020 landscape in a similar way, at least thematically, that Radiohead’s OK Computer encapsulated the angst of the generation. The idea of “post-truth” and manipulation is a central theme. The vocals have a tender desperation to them, and at times, a sense of real dread.
Soord himself took the reigns for much of the mixing of the album, and as in his recent solo efforts, a real sophistication and understanding of the 5.1 format is revealed. At times, the immersive audio field is used subtly, for textures and effects rather than dramatically engulfing you with instrumentation. Upon listening, you feel that this understated use is far more fitting for what is a vulnerable, emotional album.
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