Porcupine Tree is the kind of band that can be hard to get into for some people weaned off of short top 40 modern rock songs, but the payoff is often well worth it for those who get into the band.
Steven Wilson began making music as the lead singer of a fake band that would later add members to become the current incarnation of the progressive giants, who managed to sneak into the top 25 of the U.S. charts with their 2010 release “The Incident” based mainly off word-of-mouth.
Now, fans are beginning to discover the many hidden gems Wilson and his creative band mates have left behind over the years.
Picking 10 such songs is difficult, and everyone has their own opinions. But it can be done.
Here is a list of the 10 most underrated Porcupine Tree songs.
The “On the Sunday of Life” album is one of Porcupine Tree’s most unique to say the least, as it seems like a cross between the most out-there prog-rock albums and a Beatles side project. “Footprints” also features an ode to The Beatles as well with its lyrics about “tangerine dreams” and “marmalade skies” conjuring up thoughts of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” The song remains underrated and not very well known, but it’s got a great sense of drama and wonder hidden within.
A sprawling song that’s progressive in every sense of the word from “In Absentia,” .3 (pronounced “DOT-three,” according to Wilson at his concert in Cleveland for The Incident) lets the instruments and the soundscapes of Richard Barbieri do most of the work while employing minimalistic lyrics. It isn’t as varied as some of the other “space-rock” PT tunes, but it harkens back to the early days and that’s a good thing to mix with the band’s more modern progressive rock/metal style.
This one could find a home on any modern rock station in the country and become one of the most-requested songs, but it’s a somewhat hard-to-find underappreciated track. Hear this one on the Futile Promo EP from 2003 if you want to hear just how easy Wilson and Co. seem to be able to make a modern sound, brooding modern rock track masterpiece when they put their minds to it. This is easily one of PT’s most underrated songs.
7. Idiot Prayer
Signify is a fairly popular album but not one of the top ones by any stretch. Idiot Prayer likewise is a bit overlooked, but its throbbing techno, blistering riffs and off-center sound bytes make it a truly unique prog gem from one of the genre’s masters.
6. Burning Sky
An 11+-minute instrumental epic that matches the cover art of the somewhat overlooked PT classic release “Up the Downstair,” this song will grab your attention from start to finish. Although it does get a bit repetitive, that’s part of its charm, and the scope of this one is amazing.
5. Access Denied
Another Beatles-esque song mixed with serious progressive elements and multi-layered soundscapes, “Acess Denied” can be found as one of the signature tracks on the “Recordings” collection. The song is playful and lyrically brilliant, and catchy with depth as well, causing fans to wonder why it never appeared on one of their more mainstream albums.
Check out the Deadwing DVD to see an amazing performance of this spine-chillingly beautiful love song. Consider it the companion song to the big-time hit Lazarus and easily one of Porcupine Tree’s most underrated songs of all time.
3. So-Called Friend
A B-side on the Lazarus single, this one is another shining example of how excellent Wilson and Co. could be and how famous they could be in the States if they were to focus on modern rock with catchy hooks. Few people know the song “So-Called Friend,” but its pointed lyrics and killer riffs make it one of PT’s most hard-hitting songs.
2. Moon Touches Your Shoulder
From the Sky Moves Sideways album, this one has a dream-like quality that exemplifies the best of PT’s space rock early days.
Wilson is a big fan of Pink Floyd who doesn’t like being compared with them, but with this album and this track, the comparisons are hard to escape, and the song is also difficult to stop listening to.
1. Always Never
Wilson always says that the sad songs are the most beautiful, and the lyrics in this one definitely match that sentiment. But the music is very upbeat, for the first part anyway, with one of the catchiest and best riffs he’s ever produced (and that’s saying a mouthful). The song eventually slows down before exploding again into more guitar magic.
This is one of the best progressive rock songs out there for people who typically don’t have the patience to get into the genre, and also the most underrated Porcupine Tree song of all-time because of that timeless quality.
Thanks for reading and also check out my list of the top 10 PT songs of all-time here. Happy listening and be sure to see the band in concert when they come to your town. It’s well worth it.