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Steven Wilson - To The Bone album review

Album Review

There are colours. There are pop songs. He has his top off. Prog’s poster boy kickstarts a lighter, brighter song-based revival that strips emotions and post-truth back to an ABBA-loving core

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the one complaint most likely to be levelled at To The Bone is that, horror of horrors, it’s not as, you know, proggy as it might be. Ignoring the fact that Steven Wilson has covered more than enough musical ground to facilitate a move into pretty much any genre you may care to mention, his ongoing status as modern progressive rock’s godfather and engine driver means that his most myopic admirers will shit a polished brick when they realise that his fifth solo album is, above all, a pop record. Admittedly, it’s an extremely progressive pop record and one that boasts plenty of stylistic and textural links to previous albums, but with only four of its 11 tracks exceeding five minutes in length and a prevailing inclination toward traditional song structures, it’s a long way from the conceptual opulence of The Raven That Refused To Sing and Hand.Cannot.Erase. Wilson himself has cited the influence of the great, prog-tinged pop albums of the 80s, and the aesthetic connection to the likes of Tears For Fears, Talk Talk and So-era Peter Gabriel is certainly apparent here, but these songs are all noisily underpinned by their author’s formidable musical personality. As a result, what could have been a self-conscious paean to the wide-eyed 80s sounds more like a fervent and meticulous tribute to the very notion of the song itself.

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