Sound — 8
The sound of this album is somewhat similar to "Fear of a Blank Planet," however, a more ambient feel has been put into this album. At times this album felt like a heavier "Signify," in that respects. The main riff of "Nil Recurring" is the similar heavy metal found in songs like "Anesthetize," the beautiful acoustic work in "Normal" has a near Mediterranean feel; "Cheating the Polygraph" has some of Steven Wilson's classic wah-wah work, heralding back to stuff like "Russia on Ice" and "Hatesong" from "Lightbulb Sun," and "What Happens Now" has probably the most ambient feel on the album. The theme of the album, much like FOABP, is very creepy, and the sound resonates that.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics (With the sole exception of the title track, which is an instrumental, ) are basically still under the umbrella concept of a "blank generation" that was FOABP. "Normal" shares similar lyrics with both "Anesthetize" and "Sentimental" from FOABP, and "What Happens Now?" contains some lyrics from the FOABP track "My Ashes." The lyrics are all very well written, as usual, but "Normal" is the standout. The lyrical and vocal harmony at the end of that song is brilliant.
Overall Impression — 9
01. Nil Recurring- A pretty decent instrumental. The main riff of the song is fairly heavy, however there is an ambient vibe to this song; we also get to see some of Colin Edwin's smooth basswork. 02. Normal- Hands down the best song on this EP. The acoustic guitar work is absolutely brilliant; I can start to see Steven Wilson becoming a much more accomplished guitarist with this song. The really random heavy part at about 4:35 is brilliant and the vocal harmony at the end rivals those in the "Deadwing" song "Mellotron Scratch." This song is essentially a companion to the FOABP track "Sentimental;" it shares similar lyrics and the choruses are both the same. 03. Cheating the Polygraph- A pretty good song. I like the lyrics a lot on this one. Some great wah-wah work here; Wilson is generally good with that stuff. 04. What Happens Now? - The epic of the album. It starts of with some ambient synth work and hypnotic tribal drumming, and then it slowly progresses into an even creepier song. This song shares similar lyrics to the FOABP track "My Ashes" and a riff featured precedenting the heavy section of "Anesthetize." By any band's standards, this is an excellent EP. By Porcupine Tree standards, it's okay, although "Normal" is an instant PT classic. To newcomers, you should probably start somewhere else, but to any PT fan this is a must own.