Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun - 2000


Here we have the last album of the English Porcupine Tree, one of those bands that awakes passions and hates inside the progressive scene. This group, as everyone knows, started with a musical style very close to the space progressive genre (Pink Floyd and krautrock mainly), with excellent albums published in the record label Delerium, as "Signify" or "The sky moves sideways". Then, they have moved in their last two albums, "Stupid dream" and this "Lightbulb" sun to a much less classic and more modern progressive style.


In my opinion, and I emphasize that this it is merely my opinion and you don't have to agree with it, Porcupine Tree’s musical evolution has been a model and an example. The group, maintaining some of their musical constants of the past has entered in new musical paths of high interest, arriving to a complex and excellent music but at the same time more "commercial", based on songs of a smaller duration and with more vocals.

Obviously, the group has moved away from the more classic progressive as much in its music as in their statements to the press. Fortunately they remind me more of innovative and interesting bands of the 90s as Radiohead than to the sad Marillion of the last albums or the neoprog that has infested the 90s.

Other clearly marked influences in this album beyond the progressive sound are those of really interesting groups and soloists as the Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys, Nick Drake, krautrock, XTC or even grunge, country-rock and hard rock. As you can observe, a wide range of influences and sounds that reflects in a varied and interesting album.

The lineup of the group remains as: the leader Steven Wilson (voice, guitars, mellotron, piano, percussion, samples), Richard Barbieri (synthesizers, organ hammond, synthesized percussion), Colin Edwin (bass) and Chris Maitland (drums, choirs), with the collaboration in three songs of a string quartet arranged by the wonderful Dave Gregory of my beloved XTC).

This album includes ten songs. Of them, eight are short pieces of a duration that varies amongst three and five minutes, some of which as "Lightbulb sun", "Last chance…", "Feel so low" and above all the beautiful "Shesmovedon" are really appealing with the gradually more attractive voice of Wilson navigating over some pieces in which we must highlights the excellent composition and arrangements, the vibrant sound of guitars and keyboards and a perfectly ensembled rhythm section.

We can also enjoy two long epic suites with instrumental passages of guitars and devastating keyboards very floydian, "Hatesong" and the impressive "Russia on ice" (of eight and thirteen minutes respectively) that obviously are the closest pieces to the more classic progressive.

Particularly, I continue preferring the sound and songs of the stupendous "Stupid dream", an album that in my humble opinion, represented a total and innovative overturn in the sound of the group and an excellent contribution to the rock of the 90s. On the other hand, "Lightbulb sun", being a very good album replete of excellent songs, innovative arrangements and intelligent and excellent melodies, in my opinion contributes less innovation and surprise, and sounds maybe too similar to the previous one. This is the biggest drawback that I can think about the album.


In conclusions, this it is not an album that the lovers of the most classic progressive will love, or those more centered in a single music style. However, it offers passages of great interest for those progressive lovers that prefer riskier music in search of new sounds. In the end, it is clear that Porcupine Tree will continue to create discussions in the scene.

author - date - rating - label

José Nafría - June 2000 -   - Red Snapper