As the frontmen for two of the biggest acts on Kscope, Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief) and Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) are adored for their emotive voices and melancholic output. However, aside from the aforementioned tidbits, the two artists share few similarities, which is why the recent announcement of their collaboration came as a surprise to just about every fan. Fortunately, their debut release, ‘Wisdom of Crowds,’ is a majorly satisfying collection (as long as you don’t expect a drastically different sound palette).
The project was dreamt up by Soord, who wrote the music with Renske in mind. Of the project, he notes that it offered him a chance to be more experimental with his compositions, as The Pineapple Thief had “evolved into a distinct sound.” The end result is a highly cohesive blend of electronic tones, progressive rock arrangements, and experimental production that’s sure to please fans of either (or both) bands.
Although Soord manages to implement a few new tricks here and there, ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ basically sounds like a hybrid of Katatonia and The Pineapple Thief. This is evident immediately with opener “Pleasure,” which features a typical Renske performance attached to the aggressive beats and fierce guitar riffs of TPT. The title track is more intriguing melodically, with a subtle yet captivating chorus and some interesting programming techniques. Elsewhere, “Radio Star” is a great exploration of dynamics, as the music often disappears so that Renske is singing alongside only piano. It’s actually quite peaceful.
Oddly enough (and somewhat intangibly), “Frozen North” and “The Light” are reminiscent of the newer Linkin Park tracks in terms of how their reflective verses give way to explosive instrumentation. It’s striking, to say the least. “Centre of Gravity” decorates its beats with beautiful synths, dissonant effects, and tumultuous guitar work. The way it evolves from a simple build up to utter frenzy is fascinating. Finally, “Flows Through You” closes the record with a lot of variation and hostility, which isn’t that surprising considering the penchant Soord has for ending his albums with an epic piece. It begins with frantic electronic rhythms, colorful soundscapes, and Renske’s token antagonism. Halfway through, everything dissipates so that new inventions can resurface before recalling its original ideas.
All in all, ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ is a very pleasing album, although it doesn’t feel significantly new or bold. Instead, it sounds like what you’d expect a synthesis of their work to sound like. All of the elements are spot on, though, which makes it successful despite its familiarity.