Sound — 9
In 1998, Porcupine Tree attempted something risky that could have exhausted they're entire fan base. They began writing songs, not just tracks. With the album "Stupid Dream" they moved into a very pop-rock oriented area, while still holding onto the basic ideals behind Porcupine Tree. With Lightbulb Sun they continue to move in this direction, but also show that they are not content with the typical song structures and styles of the pop-rock genre. The first half of the album has a more pop-oriented sound, but starting with Hatesong it moves into more experimental territory. No one song is like another, so I'll describe each one below.
01. Lightbulb Sun - an amazing electro-acoustic track. The melody moves effortlessly between acoustic and electric guitars taking the lead. Both are used perfectly to make the dynamics work. The bass in this song is also very noticeable and fits perfectly.
02. How Is Your Life Today? - a short piano and vocal oriented song which while incredibly simple also shows off Steven Wilson's amazing vocals.
03. Four Chords That Made A Million - the most experimental out of the pop-oriented tracks, this song is absolutely amazing. While vocals tend to dominate the song, the drums and bass really shine through for quite a bit of the song. Richard Barbieri's samples here are pure perfection, fitting into every part they're in.
04. Shesmovedon - a very heartfelt song that uses screeching guitar solos and amazing vocal harmonies. The drums in this track really shine through as well.
05. Last Chance To Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled - strange banjo opening, and then what sounds like a band jam session afterwards with parts of the Heaven's Gate cult's leader's speech throughout. I can't decide if I like this track or not.
06. The Rest Will Flow - the absolute most upbeat song I've ever heard by Porcupine Tree. It is amazing. Featuring strings in the background and occasionally taking lead. Overall one of my favorite tracks of the album.
07. Hatesong - a very bass oriented song. Which has very few vocals yet still manages to be engaging. Bases itself off a single bass line, but still makes it work throughout the entire 8 minute song.
08. Where We Would Be - acoustic track. No bass and very little drums. Very simple song. The vocals are stunning.
09. Russia On Ice - a 13-minute, somewhat ambient piece. Uses strings throughout and near the end uses some metal mentality. Though admittedly because of it's ambience, it does get a little boring during parts.
10. Feel So Low - an incredibly sad song, but is a perfect way to end the album.
Lyrics — 9
Steven Wilson is a master of lyrics. Though at times you may wonder what he is talking about (How is your life today) they still engage you. The vocals in Lightbulb Sun seem to be more raw than those found on Stupid Dream, but are excellent nonetheless. Constant vocal harmonies throughout every track.
Overall Impression — 9
Very simply, this is a transition album. Porcupine Tree wanted to see where they could go with the style they had been using and also poked hints at the future. The two favorites from the album are no-doubt "Hatesong" and "Lightbulb Sun" as I don't think anyone can dislike those songs. While this album shows the more evolved Porcupine Tree, it still didn't feel like a vast change from stupid dream. But they very much tried to make it a different album. Overall I love this album, but compared to the future Porcupine Tree, it isn't quite to that standard.