Sound — 9
The Pineapple Thief return with their follow up to 2010's "Someone Here Is Missing", with the highly anticipated "All The Wars". 2010 very much provided a giant leap for the small band led by Bruce Soord and many fans wondered how, if at all, they would change their sound after what was arguably their most distinct and successful sound change in 2010. The verdict? They have kept, but reduced, the alt rock and electronic moments from 2010, but have also included the sombre balladry and prog tendencies from their earlier works, creating an album that could be the best definition for themselves they've ever made. The album begins similarly to "10 Stories Down", with a hard rock riff, before it gives away to vocals over a calmer backdrop. This song is called "Burning Pieces" and is a very typical Pineapple Thief song. many songs on this album (and indeed their back catalogue) use crescendos to great effect, building up emotion and loudness until it released as soothing harmonies, best found on "Warm Seas" and "Build A World". The two tracks that stand out the most are "Last Man Standing" (chosen as the lead song) for its orchestrated lines and powerful melodies and the epic and sometimes dark "Give It Back" which uses layered lyrics and has the best riff on the album, when the song stops and then blasts back into life for its climax. The guitar work is excellent and the tone is superb as always. There are some great leads and bends in "Reaching Out", beautiful chords in "All The Wars" and a great solo and riff in "Burning Pieces". The drums, bass and keyboards don't overplay, (and nor is their input understated), but provide the perfect foundation for Bruce's musical visions. An orchestra and a choir are put to good effect too in many of the songs, exaggerating every chord and melody perfectly. The moody atmosphere in "Give It Back" is a standout moment for the rest of the band.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrical themes on "All The Wars" focus on love and conflict. Bruce's voice is similar to Thom Yorke or a less nasal Billy Corgan and tends to sing about similar topics. The musical directions tend to partner the lyrical subjects brilliantly, turning loud and quiet as his mood changes; a superb fit. Unusually though Bruce's voice sounds rough in some places like in the intro to "Warm Seas" and some voicings else where on the album. These moments are few in number and don't tend to impact on the quality of the song writing. His style tends to general singing and never any screaming. He does however use an effect on his voice in "Burning Pieces" which helps make the song harder and his lyrics bite more. Sometimes he can have a tendency to really stretch out one line of lyrics for too long or repeat himself too quickly, which can get frustrating when your waiting (and wanting) for a song to kick in. But apart from this he is the perfect frontman for The Pineapple Thief.
Overall Impression — 8
This album is probably not what most fans were expecting and maybe even wanting. People were thinking of a "Someone Here Is Missing 2", with the electronic riffs and more rock orientated songwriting. But as I said previously they are not lost aspects, just modified and held back, allowing them to grow their sound and mix in their past influences. The Pineapple Thief are a band of growth and exploration and comparing to works such as "Variations On A Dream", they have indeed grown in ability and attempted to produce a truly unique album. Fans from all eras and stances should be able to find something to get their teeth, or rather ears, into and hopefully enjoy this piece thoroughly. If you enjoyed this album I would highly recommend "Someone Here Is Missing", "Little Man" and "10 Stories Down" by Pineapple Thief and "In Rainbows" by Radiohead, "In Absentia" and "Deadwing" by Porcupine Tree.