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By adhering to no one particular genre and thinking in terms of complete albums, the U.K.’s Porcupine Tree have been mostly viewed as a progressive rock band that should’ve come of age in the ‘70s. And while that description is not without validity, it shortchanges the band’s range of influences that encompass far more than the dexterous ambitions of bands three decades past. Certainly the 12-minute “Arriving Somewhere But Here” has its roots in the slow-building mechanisms of Pink Floyd, but just as clearly, the band embraces the tonalities of modern day alt-rock and the sublime harmonies of, say, Alice in Chains, without sacrificing their own identity. “Lazarus” is practically a pop song with its concise melodic contours. Elsewhere, the textures shift from spacey ambient (Sigur Ros re-born in England) to moody singer/songwriter fare without losing the cohesion of the overall album. Founder Steven Wilson began Porcupine Tree as an imaginary band with a storied rock history not unlike Spinal Tap. But he’s since been busy, compiling an impressive body of work that is no joke.

Customer Reviews

Great album -- part progressive, part alternative rock

This album continues the hard-edge that Porcupine Tree developed on their previous album, "In Absentia", although this album doesn't have quite as disturbing a theme to the songs. This album is inspired by a movie-script that Steven Wilson worked on, but it is neither "background soundtrack music" nor is it a "concept album" telling the story of the movie. It is a solid album of songs, all of which stand on their own. And they continue to make music which is somewhat difficult to pin down to a specific genre. Some of the songs here are a bit more complex (both musically and lyrically) than songs on previous PTree albums, so you may need to listen to those songs several times before they grow on you. The group likes to call this "challenging the listener", since they want a fan base which will not pigeon-hole the group into doing a single-style of music for all albums. The song that is the most challenging for the listener is probably the lead-off song of "Deadwing". It's a ten minute song which lyrically has no chorus. Musically you can tell where the chorus would go, but there are no repeated lyrics in that section. Personally I like the wry humor of the line "Yes, I'd have to say I like my privacy. Did you know you're on closed circuit TV? So smile at me!". I can't help but think of all the people who want *their* privacy to be absolute, but who want detailed information on everyone they come in contact with. There are two songs on the album that people may have heard. First is probably the least challenging song for a new listener, "Shallow". That is just a straight-ahead hard-rock sound, and more of a fun song than anything serious. I believe it was used in the movie "Four Brothers", so people may know it from that. "Lazarus" is a completely different experience. Calm, slow, piano-based and a simply-beautiful song. This was a single in Europe, but I don't know if it got any airplay here in the United States. The real masterpiece on the album is the impressive "Arriving Somewhere but not Here". A 12-minute song, and at the end of it you wish it just kept going. It covers a variety of tempos over the course of the song. You won't really get the slightest idea of what the song is about based on the 30-second sample that is available to you here on iTMS. In those 30 seconds the group has barely warmed up their instruments! That is a pity, because the instrumental work here is a phenomenal. This song is not as complicated as "Deadwing" for the listener to enjoy, as I thought the song was great the first time I heard it. But it has to be extremely challenging for them to play (although they did an excellent job with it at a concert I was at). As long as the group can keep coming up with songs which are this good, any challenge to the listener is well worth the effort. I also like the song "Mellotron Scratch". Another beautiful song, although musically there's a lot more going on in it than in "Lazarus". It includes the line "The scratching of a mellotron, it always seemed to make her cry". That line makes me think of various instrumental works which manage to grab your emotions even though there's no lyrics involved. You might think "The Start of Something Beautiful" would be another pretty song based on the title and the short sample which is available here. But the song is really a biting, bitter review of a relationship which has ended. The title comes from the line: "You thought it was the start of something beautiful? Well think again!". So if you just broke up with someone you might want to pick up this song to remember them by -- assuming you don't have fond memories of them! However, I would say this is another Porcupine Tree album where people should just get the whole album and listen to all of it. That is especially true on this album, where you'd have to buy the album anyway to get "Arriving Somewhere but not Here". It may take a few listens before you'll warm up to a song like "Deadwing", simply because it's so different from what you'd normally hear. But I do think this is one of the best albums I have bought this year, and would appeal to fans of a variety of musical genres.

The perfect union of alternative and progressive

When I heard about this album, I thought it would be horrible, being a fan of Porcupine Tree's earlier material, especially when it was just Steven Wilson (for example, Up The Downstair), and not a huge fan of alternative. However, when I listened to this album, I was blown away. There was not one song I did not enjoy on this album. If you like progressive rock, buy this album. If you like alternative rock, buy this album. If you like both, then worship this album. However, if you want the full experience, buy the physical copy; iTunes is missing a hidden track, "She's Moved On."

Progressive Rock at it's best.

Deadwing is another good album in a long list of gems from a relatively "unknown" group. Nice assortment of mellow and upbeat (rock) tunes that are tied together rather well. I very good listen overall. I don't believe in "5 star ratings" (nothing is perfect). Deadwing is a solid 4 1/2 star CD. I love this group! If you are a TRUE progressive rock fan (Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, old Genesis, and the like) this group may be a pleasant find for you. I have shared a listen to friends and they are now PT fans also. The six PT albums I have are always at the top of my iPod play list.


Formed: 1987 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Though he initially came to wider attention (at least in the U.K.) with No-Man, his long-running collaboration with Tim Bowness throughout the '90s, singer/guitarist Steven Wilson gained as much of a reputation for Porcupine Tree. Embracing and exploring prog rock inspirations while always keeping an ear out for newer musical connections, thus sidestepping the pointless revivalism of many of the band's peers, Porcupine Tree has created some noteworthy albums and songs over the years, continuing full-strength...
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Deadwing, Porcupine Tree
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