Like many albums we are going to be hearing in the back half of 2020, Versions of the Truth comes from a place of confusion and frustration. Here on The Pineapple Thief’s thirteenth album, bandleader Bruce Soord focuses on what seems to be a post-truth world, where the line between fact and fiction is so blurry many of us struggle to see it.
The first single off Versions of the Truth is “Demons,” and it is the catchiest song The Pineapple Thief have written in years. The laid-back, bass-heavy groove sticks in your head for days on end, and Soord’s plaintive “It was only supposed to be a short-term thing” is the earworm lyric of the year.
“Demons” also happens to cap the best opening trio of songs the band has put together in years. The title track opens things with a delicate plaintiveness before slowly picking up steam and transforming into a hard-hitting number we would have expected ten years ago, while “Break It All” is one of the most aggressive songs the band has penned, loaded with a Porcupine Tree-like sense of the ominous.
Elsewhere, Soord (with additional songwriting input from drummer Gavin Harrison) explores themes of finding someone to believe in (“Stop Making Sense”) and lost opportunities (“Out of Line”). Throughout all of these songs we are led down quieter, more morose pathways, where the focus is centered upon Soord’s lyrics. This makes most of Versions of the Truth a very introspective album, one primarily filled with dark and stark themes sprinkled with occasional moments of hope.
As expected, the production is stellar, with the exception of Harrison’s slightly too loud hi-hat that is distracting at times. Everything else is clean and balanced, and Soord’s quiet voice easily cuts through the instruments. Production has never been an issue for The Pineapple Thief; it’s been consistency in their songwriting, and that is improved here.
“Leave Me Be” displays dynamics that have been missing in recent times, with a laid-back chorus that effortlessly moves into urgency, and closing track “The Game” starts with reverb-laden piano and vocal before slowly increasing in instrumentation and volume. “You’re taking us all for fools” is the theme here, and it is clear that Soord and his bandmates are beyond frustrated with the state of the world.
It’s no secret that I’ve been unhappy with The Pineapple Thief’s recent output. Nothing in the past decade has resonated with me, but Versions of the Truth is an admirable step in the right direction, and the band’s strongest effort in years. It still feels as though the band plays things just a little too safe, but the upgrade in songwriting quality here is tangible, and has put The Pineapple Thief firmly back on my radar.
(released September 4, 2020 on Kscope Records)
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Watch The Pineapple Thief – “Demons” Video