wed 19/12/2018

CD: Marillion - FEAR | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Marillion - FEAR

CD: Marillion - FEAR

Progressive past masters sing the post-Brexit blues

Marillion - proggy but tasteful

Sometimes it seems there's nothing less progressive in life than progressive rock. That was certainly once true of Marillion; during the Eighties critics were quick to pounce on their ponderous 20-minute songs, and Fish's painful sixth-form poetry. But after Steve Hogarth's arrival the band underwent an epiphany. Their music became increasingly focussed and succinct. And soon there was only one word for it – tasteful.

As such, the format of FEAR (aka Fuck Everyone and Run) may, initially, seem a backwards move. It certainly looks a lot more proggy than most of the recent material, with the bulk of the record coming in the form of three lumbering musical multi-parters. The first,  "El Dorado", comprises five vignettes that paint a picture of contemporary political (post-Brexit?) foreboding, whilst "The New Kings" critiques capitalist excess. "We don't want to preach," say the band members. Yet, on paper, that looks like exactly what they are trying to do.

Still, it through the speakers that an album is to be judged, and, thankfully, here FEAR turns out to be an ambitious and moving mix of mournful simplicity and dread. It works best in its component parts. Three sections of "El Dorado", for example, possess a highly atmospheric quality that borders on filmic. "Long-shadowed Sun" is pure finger-picked prettiness, whilst  "Gold" is distinguished by a certain electronic froideur. Finally on "The Grandchildren of Apes" Steve Hogarth gives his best Radiohead impression. 

The niggles, unsurprisingly, come from the album's conceptual aspirations. For instance, Steve Hogarth's intention on "El Dorado" was to express a lost sense of security through the narrative of a man out mowing his lawn who is struck by the presence of a looming storm. The song-cycle starts off well enough, but soon the pacing gets lost. Part iii, "Demolished Lives", feels like it's just there to move things along, whilst "FEAR" (Part iv), arrives too quickly for its full impact.

Still whilst the tracks don't necessarily cohere as intended there are, undeniably, moments of the band at their best. "Vapour Trails in the Sky" has a stirring Pink Floydian quality, and "One Tonight" is just gorgeous. Existing fans will lap this offering up, and for the Marillion-curious it isn't a bad place to start.

FEAR turns out to be an ambitious and moving mix of mournful simplicity and dread

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Sixth-form poetry? It is astonishing that one who has such little appreciation for the Fish's terrific use of English to portray such imagery in his songs would actually be a writer themselves reviewing albums. Go look at the imagery in Warm Wet Circles and then sit down and write a partner lyric and post it and let's see how a professional such as the review can out match the "sixth-form Fish. "

I will concede that's one of his better ones.

Wholeheartedly agree with comment above. Fish was an an gry poet in the early days, but his lyrical imagery is still powerful today!

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