STEVEN WILSON - To The Bone (Album)

Matt Jones

 

Track Listing:

 

1. To The Bone (6.41)
2. Nowhere Now (4.04)
3. Pariah (4.44)
4. The Same Asylum As Before (5.14)
5. Refuge (6.42)
6. Permanating (3.35)
7. Blank Tapes (2.09)
8. People Who Eat Darkness (6.03)
9. Song of I (5.22)
10. Detonation (9.20)
11. Song of Unborn (5.56)

 

To the bone, the album that has divided an army of prog fans who used to be in complete synchronicity to the devotion of Lord Steven Wilson.

 

Steven's recent output has been heading for this direction since his majestic masterpiece “Hand Cannot Erase”. He has fully embraced his pop sensibilities and we end up with a record that encapsulates what in my opinion it means to truly be progressive.

 

Inspired by mammoth artists such as Bowie, Prince, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, you can see Steven just wants to create music that has consumed his pallet personally, he isn't interested in representing prog, that being said, I would argue this is one of the most progressive records ever made. Here is why....

 

So the album starts on an almost Lenny Kravitz kinda vibe. Very unusual for Wilson, has this great groove to it, but a catchy chorus that keeps me intrigued and serves as a great opener for the eclectic album that waits beyond.

 

“Nowhere now” is a blissful tune, wrapped in harmony and elegance. It's the perfect song to segway into lead single “Pariah”. A duet with Ninet Tayeb. It's a stunning power ballad with a nod to Prince in the verses via the Purple Rain chord progression.

 

As we move into the more traditional progressive tropes we expect from Wilson in the middle of the record, the picture becomes much clearer to me. “The Same Asylum As Before” a social commentary on his view of democracy and governments. This track helps to establish the rockier side of the record and Wilson begins showcasing his falsetto vocals which really do sit very well throughout the record.

 

“Refuge” is absolutely sublime and features a duel solo between a harmonica and guitar. The record really starts to cook at the mid point for me, the lavish dynamics that are showcased by the production on “Refuge” really show the love that Steven has put into this record.

 

“Permanating” the most divisive song Wilson has ever released. The comments on the YouTube alone were comical to say the least. “Steven, you are ruining my depression”. Steven Wilson fans do not like pop music. I do. I love Permananting. I completely get it. It's very reminiscent of Out of the Blue era ELO and Abba. It's an exceptional pop song with an unforgettable melody.

 

Next track “Blank Tapes” is a partner to “Pariah” and delicately raps up the theme of the perspective on relationships.

 

“People Who Eat Darkness” is just a straight ahead prog rock song. Lots of odd time signatures and angular run downs that keep your ears intrigued.

 

“Song of I” is arguably the most diverse song on the record, it's a dark and sultry song. It lives in the shadows and has a dual vocal throughout. No harmony either just creepy octaves in unison. It sounds haunting and the strings towards the end intensify the feeling of unease.

 

Then there is the guitar solo in “Detonation”. Wow. I don't need to say any more. The song builds and builds to one of the most inventive and spontaneous guitar solos I have heard in years!

 

The album draws to a close with an anthemic harmony filled chorus of defiance. “Song of Unborn” is THE song to end the album on.

 

This is Steven Wilson's best record. It's a prog record. It's also got an immense pop sensibility. It dares to PROGRESS and not do what is expected within the framework of a prog album...  or a pop album. Jeez. Who knew definitions could be that simple?

 

Hands up who hates prog fans? Keep doing what you do Steven. To the Bone is a masterpiece and will stand as a gem in your catalogue forever.

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