hello folks! this week for the Weekly Review, we’re taking a look at 2009’s The Incident, from British rock band Porcupine Tree!

i hadnt heard of Porcupine Tree before this album was recommended, so i definitely had to go check out some contextual information about the record while listening, especially as a i learned that this was the last record the band put out before an extended haitus.

what i found was really neat was that this is a double album, and the front side of the album was intended as a single, 55-minute composition before it was broken up into individual tracks. Steven Wilson, the songwriter for the band, was inspired by seeing a sign calling a traffic collision an “incident”, which he felt was a reductive way to describe circumstances that are frequently tragic or life-changing, and the front side of the record muses on different ways that can be reflected.

Occam’s Razor is a moody, atmospheric lead in to The Blind House, a track largely about walling spaces off from outsiders, and the lyrics seem to suggest highly controlling households, churches, or cults. Great Expectations contrasts a blind believer and an individual theyre separated from – the framing here implies a failure that the speaker refuses to see. really dig the soaring guitars on this song, and they plummet really effectively into the tragic piano chords of Kneel and Disconnect, another shorter track about a kind of malaise where the speaker is stuck in a cycle that promises hope but doesnt deliver. Drawing the Line, a track about someone very clearly at a breaking point, extremely effectively pulls up out of the mellower sounds of Kneel and Disconnect into some very triumphant moments. love the chorus they rally to on this song. The Incident relays a version of the, well, incident, that gave this record its theme and shape. its dark and industrial, looming menacingly. i also like this track a ton too. Your Unpleasant Family is cool – a bit of story suggesting vocals and some very fun guitar work. The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train is a more ephemeral, tenuous composition, like its grasping at something temporary. Time Flies is kinda the centerpiece of the record. a lot of the stuff leading up to this has been about events that end things early, or snatch opportunity away from folks, and this song is more reflecting on the value of that opportunity. at eleven minutes, this track goes through a few movements of its own – the middle instrumental section is really really cool. Degree Zero of Liberty is a more mellow outro – the heavier chords as it reaches its end lay a much more ominous impression to the vibes. Octane Twisted has a slower guitar intro, with some lyrics that indicate a haunting, and brings back some of the heavier vibes for the core of the track. The Seance brings that haunting to the front lyrically, haha. The Circle of Manias takes the bit at the end of Seance that was turning dark and turns the satanic vibes way up. bad trip on this one. pretty fun inclusion, though the hard stop into I Drive the Hearse is a bit jarring, especially as I Drive the Hearse closes out the large, disc one composition. it discusses regret, and failure, a very interesting choice to provide the last word on the overall experience.

the rest of the tracks here were songs recorded during this recording session, but were much more standalone. i think Flicker’s a solid choice to start this side of the record off, definitely feels like putting a different musical foot forward. Bonnir the Cat continues that trend – the kind of whispery vocals on the verses that get harmonized for emphasis are very neat under the sinister environment the rest of the track is building. they definitely go fucking nuts for the second half of the track – had a lot of fun with that half of the song. Black Dahlia’s p good. Remember Me Lover rounds out the record, a sprawling track about someone finally walking away from a toxic relationship.

faves – Drawing the Line, The Incident
dislikes –

i had a solid time here – Porcupine Tree moves pretty seamlessly between poppier, melodic sounds and some more intense, heavier rock vibes, and across the record the transitions are extremely smooth between both those shifts in style and the tracks themselves. not surprising, considering many of them were composed together, but i think it still works quite well as presented.

on the whole, a pretty cool project, and an extremely fun listen – glad i gave this one a listen!

The Incident – 7/10

for the next Weekly Album Review, i’ll be listening to Oh No! It’s Devo!, by DEVO. i’ll be back on Friday, February 17th, with that review and to pick another weekly record, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then one pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.)