Music Reviews
4 1/2

Steven Wilson 4 1/2

(Kscope) Rating - 6/10
The prolific Steven Wilson returns with a new EP, less than a year after the excellent Hand. Cannot. Erase. Called 4 1/2, it serves as an interim between that last album and whatever Wilson does next. A more appropriate name for the release would have been 3 1/2, given that most of the songs are from the sessions for The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) and Hand. Cannot. Erase. Still, while these tracks may not have made the cut, some strong melodies and ideas make this release worth the listen.
The opener, My Book of Regrets, sounds like a missing piece of Hand. Cannot. Erase. It goes from a Neil Young guitar riff to an uplifting chorus, before switching to a strummed-out melody ripped straight out of Time Flies from Porcupine Tree. Of course, the band for his solo work can shred with the best of them, as seen in the explosive solo and spacey prog jam that dominate the middle of the song. Similarly, Happiness III also fits with that record, as a straightforward, kinetic track with a propulsive riff. 
Going further back, Year of the Plague comes from the sessions for The Raven That Refused To Sing. Anyone familiar with that album will recognize its melancholy, ghostly atmosphere, as haunting strings sweep alongside acoustic guitar pickings and piano chords. It deserved a spot on the full-length record. Less successful is Sunday Rain Sets In, as its film noir flute is not enough to save its typical instrumentation that goes nowhere. 
Then you have Vermillioncore, the best track name I've heard in some time. I give it six months before someone turns this into an actual genre. If they do, maybe it'll sound like the song, combining a tight bass groove with jazzy keys and a warped organ, before exploding into an electric, near-metal segment. 
The EP comes to a close with Wilson looking way back with a re-recording of Don't Hate Me, a song from Porcupine Tree's 1999 album Stupid Dream. The addition of Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb helps the conversational nature of the track's longing lyrics, but you are just as well served by the original. Still, 4 1/2 feels like Wilson clearing house and giving himself a fresh start for Album No. 5. Where that road takes him, who knows. But in the meantime, if you liked his other solo albums, you'll find something to enjoy here.