Steven Wilson, formerly of Porcupine Tree, this year released his 5th solo album “To The Bone”. The renowned progressive rock man is known for his genre bending, expansive and challenging approach to his music, while still maintain a very hard pop edge and catchiness to his records.
“To The Bone” shows nothing too new for the frontman, the countless influences embraced throughout the album are proudly throughout the album that some might think they were deliberate references to other artists. Take the opening title track, this song musically sounds like a collaboration between Boards Of Canada and Talk Talk with its glitchy beats and distorted amplified harmonica, which sounds like it was taken directly from Talk Talk’s “The Rainbow”.
However, after “To The Bone”, I feel like the album falls flat a lot. There are highlights like the noisy outro of “The Same Asylum As Before” or the mammoth track “Detonation” which builds and build until climaxing with a huge funky jam.
The tracks, however, can tend to feel a tiny bit formulaic. Tracks like “Nowhere Now” or “Refuge” seem to show this the most in the way they slowly build and introduce more and more instruments, until explosion of rocky riffs and guitar solos, and the payoff of sticking with the track the whole way never seems to match that of “Detonation”, which I think would have been better placed as the album’s closer, replacing the way subdued and underwhelming “Song Of Unborn”.
There are also tracks that feel like complete filler. Take “Blank Tapes” for example, offering nothing new to the album thus far; it takes away from the flow of the track-listing. The final flaw in a few of these tracks are the lyrics. The opening line of “People Eat Darkness” about hearing a couple next door at their business is borderline embarrassing. However, there are moments that save the album. “Permanating” channels Psych-Rock styling of acts like Tame Impala to create a really solid track with a heavy groove.
Overall, there are a few tracks on the album that saves it for me. I think Steven Wilson is continuing his signature approach of bending genres and creating interesting sounds and for the most part, he does it well. However, the lyrics in huge parts are quite weak and the music itself can sometimes fall short of the emotions it was intended to convey. For diehard fans of Steven Wilson, I think this album is another good addition to his discography however for a casual fan of him I don’t see myself going back to this album.