This song is the track which really introduced me to this band, which had been a going concern for a number of years before I came across them. The group is led by Steven Wilson, who began the band as something of a fictional lost band from the early 70s, when prog, or progressive rock, was at the height of popularity. But, in fairly short order, Wilson put out a string of records which borrowed from the early years of prog, and eventually added something of a hard rock edge as Porcupine Tree became more of a going concern as a 90s band.
“Piano Lessons” clearly pulls in a number of Pink Floyd stylistic references for which the group had become known on past releases, yet also brings out something of Wilson’s ability to balance style with accessibility. So, ultimately this is a pop song in a rock setting. The rest of the album follows suit, with the Floyd approach to creating atmosphere mixed with the aggression of hard rock and European progressive metal.
I first heard this song on a sampler, and couldn’t believe it was the band that I’d seen earlier at the Strawberry Fair Festival in Cambridge a year or two before. That group was more experimental, and slightly unfocused. But, on this they got to the point without being dull. Clearly, Wilson had evolved the band since their earlier period as an artier, more experimental band. On this, Wilson shows his interest in putting across songs, instead of just trying to capture a sound.
For more information about Porcupine Tree, check out porcupinetree.com.