Album Reviews

Issue 2022-054

Porcupine Tree — Closure / Continuation

Porcupine Tree - Closure / Continuation
Harridan (8:08), Of The New Day (4:43), Rats Return (5:40), Dignity (8:22), Herd Culling (7:03), Walk The Plank (4:27), Chimera's Wreck (9:39)
Bonus tracks on deluxe editions: Population Three (6:52), Never Have (5:08), Love In The Past Tense (5:50)
Patrick McAfee

Considering Steven Wilson's commitment to his solo career over the last decade, it was easy to assume that the door was closed on a Porcupine Tree reunion. What wasn't known though, is that he and bandmates Gavin Harrison and Richard Barbieri had been working on new material since 2012.

Falling under the category of silver linings, the covid lockdowns allowed them some dedicated time to finish this new album. Former bassist Colin Edwin, who essentially fell out of touch with the other members, is not involved. Wilson handles all the bass work and proves to be a more-than-adequate substitute.

The span of time since their last studio release has created lofty expectations, and Closure / Continuation certainly delivers. Album opener Harridan checks all the traditional PT boxes and was an excellent choice to reintroduce the band to listeners.

For anyone hoping that they would change things up a bit after such a long break, Of The New Day heads in that direction. It is unmistakably the work of these three musicians, but it does subtly move the needle forward. Conversely, Rats Return is a rocker in the band's customary style, but is nonetheless intriguing.

Porcupine Tree, promo photo

The album proves to be most interesting though when it defies expectations. Those moments increase as the track-list progresses. Dignity (a highlight), Herd Calling, Walk The Plank and Chimera's Wreck all employ the Porcupine Tree sound, while adding elements that avoid this being an exercise in nostalgia. That would have been pointless. Either by intent, musical growth or both, the band apparently agrees. This is a masterclass in giving the people what they want, while still adding fresh and entertaining angles to an established formula.

Lending to this, is the increased collaboration from a songwriting perspective. Whereas Steven Wilson was the central writer on previous releases, this is much more of a band effort. The band successfully blends signature instrumental segments, with improved traditional song structures. This may be one of their more commercially accessible albums, but it has been created without any loss of progressive integrity.

The Special Edition includes three extra tracks, all of which are worthwhile additions to the standard album. Of particular interest is the seven-minute instrumental Population Three, which artfully displays the intricate musical strength of these talented musicians.

I wouldn't be surprised to see some disappointed reviews for Closure / Continuation. Hype and heightened expectations tend to result in that type of response sometimes. To my ears though, this album masterfully incorporates what made Porcupine Tree great, and adds in the collective musical growth of each band member since 2009. It is a highly entertaining and welcome return by one of the biggest names in modern progressive rock.

Porcupine Tree On

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