The Pineapple Thief- 12 Stories Down (Cyclops)
review by Joe del Tufo

Track Listing

1. Prey For Me
2. It's You And Me
3. The World I Always Dreamed Of
4. Oblivion
5. From Where You're Standing
6. Slip Away
7. Watch The World (Turn Grey)
8. Clapham
9. Catch The Jumping Fool
10. Start Your Descent
11. Take Our Hands
12. The Answers

8 Days Later (Bonus Disc)
detailed review here

1. Sunday 8 August
2. Monday 9 August
3. Tuesday 10 August
4. Wednesday 11 August
5. Thursday 12 August
6. Friday 13 August
7. Saturday 14 August
8. Sunday 15 August
9. Who Will Be There?
10. Wretched Soul
11. I Will Light Up Your Eyes

Note: This is an advance review of 12 Stories Down, which will be released in early 2005. The release will likely contain a different running order, different mixes and possibility even some additions and subtractions to the album tracks. This review is of the special edition, which is currently, though I suspect briefly, available at

As 2004 winds down the final release of note (and surely one of our candidates for Best of 2004) is The Pineapple Thief's 12 Stories Down. A massive, daunting release, over two hours and twenty minutes if you consider the bonus disc (which I do not, in order to keep this review under control), 12 Stories Down is a flawed masterpiece, and certainly up there with Marillion's Marbles for the most ambitious release of the year. I have unfortunately only given the disc four listens to this point, so please read on with that caveat in mind.

If there is one first impression that stands out, it is how much more diverse 12 Stories Down is compared to the Thief’s earlier releases. On their fourth official release, we find Bruce Soord and his band (and it is a proper band now, with a real drummer, violin, backing vocals and I'm sure there's even a glockenspiel in there if you listen hard enough) taking chances that were perhaps beyond their previous limitations, and staking new ground in the process.

Prey For Me opens the festivities with power chords that quickly dissipate into layered acoustic guitar. It is an interesting choice for an opener, probably made for its catchy chorus ("And you must pity me, and I'm sure you'll pray for me, and you want to cradle me, and you have my sympathy") and its generally positive energy, lyrics notwithstanding. For me it's too much too soon, and though I find the chorus catchy it also seems to have its complexity buried in production, leaving me wishing for a more full-blown version. It is a great track despite these reservations, and the disc’s mix is otherwise quite sound. The Pineapple Thief have a tendency to write relatively dreary lyrics, indeed their most recent release Variations On A Dream was on the level of a Roger Waters’ release for sheer ability to induce depression. The disc art includes a cartoon sketch with a line of people jumping from a (presumably 12 story) building, in case you're in need of a reference point here. Prey For Me contains lines like "The pretty fools who sing to a different tune, the night will take them soon" and "what a wretched thing, you have found within" all somehow nestled magically within what on the surface is a catchy, upbeat tune.

A more downbeat track follows in the form of It's You And Me. Opening with a Tuatara-like collage of keyboard and guitar, It's You And Me more closely fits the style and tempo of Variations On A Dream than any of the tracks on 12 Stories.

The solo that erupts in the middle of the track recalls Echolyn's Brett Kull at his finest- surfacing from relative calmness to rear a sneer, then disappearing back into the mist. Again, we have a powerful and interesting track that would perhaps better serve this disc somewhere later in the running order. "We're dead and we love it, it's just you and me" - lines that would make Trent Reznor proud.

The third track, The World I Always Dreamed Of, is perhaps the finest on the disc. It is complex, catchy and immediate. It is lyrically arresting "There's nothing else I can do, so I'm shouting this out for you, and I know you'll never heard me ... and glowing, we keep glowing, hopelessly" and seems borne from genuine emotional frustration. Much of this disc is about missed opportunities, bad timing, and finding ways to move forward despite this, and World sets the tone for this. It also contains some of the finest keyboard/ synth work I've heard from the band, and the closing instrumental barrage is a melange of pure existential bliss.  This track contains a little piece of everything- Mogwai, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails- I even heard a little bit of the Cars in the keyboards, but it is also so fundamentally its own thing, and that thing is tough to deny. The wonderful violin and acoustic guitar outro makes me realize how fantastic this would sound with full orchestration.

Oblivion is at once funky and in-your-face. TPT have never done anything like it. With its slinky, thumping keyboard percussion, the track quickly soars with its driving guitar and aggressive vocals. "This is further than I ever meant to be, turn me around and push my yesterday to me." Here we find Bruce Soord at the top of his game, crafting a track as interesting as it is unexpected. It is one of those tracks that yields its true colors quickly, and is clearly one of the disc's highlights. Wonderful effect as the track screeches to an abrupt halt. From Where You're Standing follows, and opens with an almost alt-country feel to it. It begins like a Manic Street Preachers' unplugged track, with hard strummed acoustic guitars layered until the chorus busts them up, and lets the electricity flow. The mantra "hold your last breath, with all you have left" is designed to bury itself into your psyche, and does the job quite effectively. Another Soord solo at the end that recalls, er, Steven Wilson (no really, it's a compliment).

Slip Away is another downtempo track, that is perhaps a bit too similar in its approach to the earlier It's You And Me. It is interesting in its own right, with the gentle and crystalline guitar soothing the lyrics into focus. If nothing else, Slip Away sets the table nicely for the inventive Watch The World (Turn Grey). I'm a sucker for quick acoustic guitar over an electronica beat, but it's not territory The Pineapple Thief have heretofore traveled. And here we have a track that sounds downbeat but is lyrically more idealistic. "Don't let the sun go down on you, there is another way." Nice accompanying vocals from Libby Bramley, adding yet another dimension. Watch The World is a nice bridge track, and it creates a audial contrast with Clapham, which follows. Clapham is a difficult beast to tame. It is at once depressing and euphoric, acoustic and electric, dense and simple. It seems a beat or two slower than it wants to be. Lyrically it's also tough to pin down- "So I'm singing this for you, so you don't have to. Is this something to live for?" I love it, but I want to love it more.

Catch the Jumping Fool arrives in a flurry a guitar and bass, sounding like garage punk meets Placebo. Great use of the drone on the opening instrumental buildup. Soord's vocals are approached differently here, with a sung falsetto rising just above the layered guitar and tambourine. This is a fun track, and seems free from the weight of some of the other tunes' often overwhelming emotion. Start Your Descent follows, and showcases Richard Hunt's violin from the outset. Here we can see how Soord's almost mathematically picked acoustic guitar is really the spine of 12 Stories Down- it is ever-present, and everything else seems to exist as flesh, blood and bone around it. It is easy to be distracted by the instrumental complexity and lyrical weight, but at its heart, these are songs that revolve around simple guitar licks.

At eight and a half minutes, Take Our Hands is the longest track on 12 Stories Down. It is the only track that takes its time to build up to an inevitable conclusion. The military drum in the second minute belies some of the politics (I suspect both personal a social) that are at work here. Lines like "Just do as we tell you, you don't have a choice" and "There's no answers for you, there is no other voice" also serve to make their point. Is this an anti-war track or a call for a truce between two lovers? I like to think it’s both, though I suspect it is neither. The Answers closes out the 70+ minute main disc, and it is sweetness personified. It is by far the most beautiful track on 12 Stories, with it chorus "I don't want the answers, I don't need to know, I just want back here, we'll never let go," never for a moment sounding as trite as it reads on the page. It's as if a lost Pink Floyd track were unearthed 30 years later by Thom Yorke, and then played to perfection with Wilco's accompaniment. It is a graceful and elegant closer.

My strongest criticism, if you can call it that, is that there are tracks on the bonus disc that are perhaps even stronger than the main disc. It's as if Soord had so much good stuff he didn't know what to do with it all. Since the bonus disc is only available in very limited quantities with the three extra tracks (Who Will Be There, Wretched Soul, and I Will Light Up Your Eyes), I urge you to run over to and order a copy before you're forced to do it on eBay for ten times the price. It is one thing to criticize the running order of a disc, but when some of the best tracks are destined to be deleted, it presents more of a concern. You really don't want to miss Wretched Soul, and I Will Light Up Your Eyes is a glorious and uplifting track in its own right.

As someone who lives and breathes music, it is a constant source of both inspiration and frustration that The Pineapple Thief are not a household name. Or at least had a deal of some sort in this country. Amidst the constant barrage of mediocrity that dominates modern radio, certainly there must be room for them. They are easy prey for lazy journalists and music pundits who liken their sound to Porcupine Tree, Radiohead or The Smashing Pumpkins (they are both none of and a little bit of each), and they are limited by distribution from their web site and Cyclops, the relatively small label who have thus far been the only ones to get it. But the real challenge is that, in my opinion, they fall into the chasm of not being easily categorizable. I've heard the prog folks complain that they are not "prog" enough, as if that were not an inherent contradiction in terms; and I've heard the indie and rock folks going on about the tracks being too long or not having enough hooks, although I could not get Variations out of my head for months when it was first released. In the end, it's just great music, and it's due time that started to matter to people again.

Take this review as a first impression, one that is certain to wax and wane as the tracks fully reveal themselves through the winter. One thing is for certain though, The Pineapple Thief are clearly on a trajectory that will make their presence undeniable and, as each release delivers more depth and complexity, I'm certain that this wonderful band will finally get their just attention. While 12 Stories Down may not be perfect, it's certainly as close as anything else going, and that in itself is a cause for celebration.


marillion- happiness is the road
tilt- million dollar wound
mickey simmonds- the seven colours of emptiness
ukz- radiation
pain of salvation - scarsick
icon- icon II, icon live
the pineapple thief- tightly unwound
planet p project- levittown (go out dancing part II)
nosound- lightdark
dengue fever- venus on earth
art of all- morgan
marillion- somewhere else
abigails ghost- selling insincerity
blackfield- blackfield II
damien rice- 9
the who- endless wire
the beach boys- good vibrations
the pineapple thief- little man
the killers- sam's town
tom petty- highway companion
hem- funnel cloud
emm gryner- the summer of high hopes
jeremy enigk- world waits
razorlight- razorlight
gps- window to the soul
iron maiden- a matter of life and death
thom yorke- the eraser
richard butler- richard butler
the flaming lips- at war with the mystics
ray davies- other people's live
david gilmour- on an island
nosound- sol29
jackson browne- running on empty 5.1
neal morse- ?
king crimson- 21st century guide to king crimson
shriekback- cormorant
depeche mode- playing the angel
pallas- the dreams of men
my morning jacket- z
riverside- second life syndrome
roger waters- ca ira
various artists- backs against the wall
riverside- out of myself
sigur ros- takk
killers- hot fuss
queen + paul rodgers- return of the champions
journey- generations
yes- the word is live
emmylou harris- heartaches & highways
van der graaf generator- remaster series
rob dickinson- fresh wine for the horses
annie- anniemal
dredg- catch without arms
foo fighters- in your honor
dream theater- octavarium
belle and sebastian- push barman to open old wounds
the go-betweens- oceans apart
porcupine tree- up the downstair (remaster 2005)
coldplay- x & y
nine inch nails- with teeth
aimee mann- the forgotten arm
van der graaf generator- present
christopher o'riley- hold me to this
glen phillips- winter pays for summer
new order- waiting for the siren's call
ben folds- songs for silverman
john doe- forever hasn't happened yet
trashcan sinatras- fez
adrian belew- side one
kaki king - legs to make us longer
longview- mercury
stereophonics- language. sex. violence. other?
for against- echelons
over the rhine- drunkard's prayer
kathleen edwards- back to me
kasabian- kasabian
porcupine tree- deadwing
the wedding present- take fountain
super furry animals - songbook
arena- pepper's ghost
snow patrol- final straw
rpwl- world through my eyes
tori amos- the beekeeper
kino- picture
monarch- the grandeur that was rome
spocks beard- octane
the wonder stuff- escape from rubbish island
richard barbieri- things buried
the pineapple thief- 12 stories down
the pineapple thief- 8 days later
the innoncence mission- now the day is over
zero 7- when it falls
pain of salvation- be
california guitar trio- white water
jelly jam- 2
tim bowness- my hotel year
van halen- the best of both worlds
glen burtnik- welcome to hollywood
charlie mars- charlie mars
porcupine tree- voyage 34 (2004 remaster)
saint etienne- travel edition
lanterna- highways review
hellboys- cha cha with the hellboys review
persona non grata- the fine art of living review
tegan and sara- so jealous review
guadalcanal diary- 2x4 reissue review
voices in the wire- signals in transmission review
roger waters- to kill a child/ leaving beirut review
luna- rendezvous review
jim white- drill a hole in that substrate and tell me what you see review
the drive-by truckers- the dirty south review
the blue nile - high review
lovedrug- pretend you're alive review
twilight singers- she loves you review
keane- hope and fears review
winds- the imaginary direction of time review
kristeen young- x review
asia- silent nation review
macha- forget tomorrow review
crystal method- legion of boom dvd-audio review
kevin moore- ghost book review
marillion- don't hurt yourself singles review
attrition- dante's kitchen review
rush- feedback review
tortoise- it's all around you review
division of laura lee- does not compute review
peccatum- lost in reverie review
iq- dark matter review
bass communion- ghosts on magnetic tape review
the push stars- paint the town review
virgin black- elegant... and dying review
marillion- marbles review
the streets- a grand don't come for free review
the veils- the runaway found review
all about eve- let me go home review
john young band- live review
mary lou lord- baby blue review
the divine comedy- absent friends review
pink floyd- the final cut (2004 remaster) review
prot-kaw- before became after review
jeffrey gaines live review
mocean worker- enter the mowo review
starsailor- silence is easy review
pineapple thief- variations review
lloyd cole- music in a foreign language review
david sylvian- blemish review
spock's beard- feel euphoria eview
guy manning- press pack sampler review
magellan- impossible figures review
the tangent- the music that died alone review
john gorka- live from grace church photos and review
hothouse flowers- into your heart review
charlotte martin- on your shore review
rasputina- frustration plantation review
stellastarr*- stellastarr* review
vast- nude review
sparks- lil' beethoven review
the damnwells- bastards of the beat review
dave gahan- paper monsters review
king crimson- power to believe review
fish- field of crows review
porcupine tree- in absentia dvd-audio review
new model army- great expectations review
antimatter- unreleased 1998 - 2003 review
catie curtis: dreaming in romance languages review
the gathering- sleepy buildings review
twilight singers play blackberry belle review
vienna teng- warm strangers review
opeth- lamentations dvd review
courtney love- america's sweetheart review
blackfield review
anathema- a natural disaster review
nearfest 2003 coverage
neal morse solo photos- metuchen, nj
porcupine tree broadcast
alpha- stargazing review
david sylvian at the tla
emm gryner at the point
barry andrews at the tin angel
tweaker:2 am wakeup call review
cure- join the dots review
fish live from the tla with john wesley
spearhead- everyone deserves music review
miles hunt (wonderstuff) live

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