29. Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)
This one actually feels like a buffet of delicious sounds and textures, provided by Marco Minnemann's enormous drum set and creativity, the great variety of percussive instruments used, the different keyboards, the multiple guitar effects, the saxophone, the flute, the clarinet, the mandatory melotron, etc. The almost-perfect production makes each of the elements perfectly audible; this is an album that needs to be listened to with proper headphones - the stereo effects are mindblowing. It's a very entertaining listen from the first riff to the final post-rock climax.
It's not Steven Wilson's best album, because it's probably the least original of the three: it is heavily influenced by classic 70's progressive rock bands like Genesis, Yes and King Crimson. On the other hand, this aspect can also be fun; you know, if a certain riff makes you think of Yes' golden years, it can't be that bad! Anyway, the songs are catchy and full of memorable melodies, and the structures are masterfully written. Like always (at least, for me), Steven's voice is incredibly touching, just as the stories he tells are: the lyrics on this are very interesting (see the wikipedia page of the album) and well written. The musicianship of Steven Wilson and his acolytes is also remarkable. Yet, having such good musicians in a prog band leads most of the times to having a fuckload of solos, which gets a bit boring for me at some point, but it's not that bad; on this record, the solos are entertaining and varied. Nonetheless, I'm not an unconditional prog fan, so the songs that get to me the most are the simpler, more emotional ones, like my personal favourite "Drive Home" and the tastily post-rock drenched title track. This was the progressive rock album of the year to me.