Saturday, September 17, 2022

Top 20 Songs by Porcupine Tree

 It's often said that Porcupine Tree is the greatest unknown band, and there really is some truth to that. They are no one-hit wonder. They're a band with numerous five-star and four-star quality songs that, for some unknown reason, simply flies below the radar for the majority of rock lovers. It doesn't help that they essentially vanished for more than a decade before returning with their latest album "Closure/Continuation". 

Anyhow, I feel very fortunate to finally get a chance to see them live in concert in early November in Amsterdam. In honor of this event, I decided it was time to give my personal top 20 songs by the band.

1. Black Dahlia, from The Incident, 2009

To be honest, this song and the next are basically a tie for me. They both have similar quiet, atmospheric beauty and touch the same heart strings. Some people may find them morose, but I love them.

2. Flicker, from The Incident, 2009

You're going to see a lot of songs from this album, because every single song on The Incident is great. My favorite album by far of theirs.

3. The Incident, from The Incident, 2009

An amazing song that really can be broken down into a string of distinct songs that mesh together. The overall song is more than 55 minutes long and is well worth hearing in its entirety, though my favorite sub-tracks are Drawing the Line and The Incident.

4. Anesthetize, from Fear of a Blank Planet, 2007

Another long song, at nearly 18 minutes, but lush and filled with cool changes, including a crunchy rocking section.

5. Drown With Me, from Futile, 2003

A punchy pop/rock song with some cool choruses. The live version from We Lost the Skyline is also amazing.

6. Remember Me Lover, from The Incident, 2009

A companion piece to Black Dahlia--they really go well together played back to back.

7. Bonnie the Cat, from The Incident, 2009

An uber-cool, slightly twisted song that my eldest son turned me on to. It took a bit to grow on me.

8. Futile, from In Absentia, 2002

Blending heavier rock with lovely vocals.

9. Lazarus, from We Lost the Skyline, 2008

I'm not a big fan of the recorded version, but this live version is beautiful.

10. Even Less, from Stupid Dream, 1999

A lot of these cool songs from the middle rankings could easily swap places with each other depending on my mood.

11. So Called Friend, from Deadwing, 2005

A rocker that slows for a gorgeous chorus.

12. Fear of a Blank Planet, from Fear of a Blank Planet, 2007

13. Fadeaway, from Up the Downstair, 1993

To be honest, I can't tell which version I enjoy more, the recorded version or the live version from 2005's XM II album. The latter version is sung by guitarist John Wesley, while the original is sung by band leader Steven Wilson.

14. Trains, from In Absentia, 2002

15. Lightbulb Sun, from Lightbulb Sun, 2000

16. Waiting, from Insignificance, 1997

17. Where We Would Be, from Lightbulb Sun, 2000

18. Wake As Gun I, from Insignificance, 1997

19. Shallow, from Deadwing, 2005

20. Nine Cats, from Insignificance, 1997

Like I said, a lot of these songs lower in the list are not essentially any less worthy than ones I've ranked above them, so here are some honorable mentions that easily belong alongside some of the ones mentioned above: Hatesong, Gravity Eyelids, Arriving Somewhere But Not Here, Mellotron Scratch, Shesmovedon, Stars Die, My Ashes, Blackest Eyes, Nil Recurring. Of course, Porcupine Tree are so good that these are just my five- and four-star songs--they have tons of good songs that I personally only rank as three-stars due to not wishing to listen to them quite as often. Some of the songs from the new album are worthy of being on this list, but I simply haven't listened to them enough times to tell where they belong.

If you are one of the legions of people who have unfortunately not heard of Porcupine Tree, do yourself a favor and give them a good listen. If you only wish to try one album, then try The Incident in its entirety.


  1. I picked up their latest the day it came out! Too soon for any of those tunes to make the list?
    I'd place Anesthetize at number one. Brilliant song.
    Would like to see them on their current tour, but between tickets, hotel, and travel, not ready to spend a thousand bucks.

    1. I do love Anesthetize and rate it five stars, but I love those others more. I mostly rate things based on how often I wish to listen to them. As far as the new album, I haven't listened to it all that much yet. Perhaps only eight or nine times so far.