Hindsight is a set of unplugged re-recordings of Anathema's own songs from their latter-day, atmospheric period. The band has been increasing the emphasis on acoustic instrumentation ever since they turned away from their doom-death roots, and so the idea of Hindsight seems to have been almost unavoidable. Thankfully, however, unlike most unplugged albums, this one was done in the studio, with obvious care taken to transmit the songs in a new format, as opposed to simply plugging off the distortion pedal and plucking away at the same chords. The songs have been rearranged for an acoustic guitar, piano, and cello, and are barely recognizable, except for the vocals -- Vincent Cavanagh's moan is as sad and dejected as ever -- and for the parts that were acoustic to begin with, such as most of "Inner Silence." The good thing is that the new setting brought the gentle melancholy present in Anathema's music to the forefront; there was a danger of the band being too melodramatic with Hindsight, but it's smartly avoided (for the most part) without losing the emotion. Moreover, the outcome is quite unique: though the music evokes a lot of bands, from Gravenhurst and Mount Eerie to Tori Amos, it confirms Anathema to be in a class -- or, rather, a style -- of their own. That said, the cover nature of Hindsight catches up with it occasionally, simply because the band's possibilities are more limited in the acoustic setup than they were in the original one: at their core, Anathema's songs are pretty repetitive, and though this worked well with all sorts of electric trickery, the unplugged versions sometimes blur together and simply flow by unheeded. Hindsight is still a good listen full of both moving and soothing moments, but it's telling that no track here matches Anathema's own original acoustic compositions (such as, well, "Transacoustic"), though, admittedly, they come quite close at times.
AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko