Genre: Progressive Rock
Have we reached already the stage of adulthood? Come on reader, don’t be surprised. It is just the 18th album of those Britons, so I guess I can start my review with a playful question. In any case, I don’t know if adulthood is achieved in 18, so don’t ask me when it is coming, I am not good either with numbers, or with questions of that sort. It is just me writing a few words about the new Marillion album, which is being released in an ideal time to have a soundtrack for another Autumn.
“F.E.A.R.”: “Fuck Everyone And Run” is the title. Don’t look for angry outbreaks in the abbreviated words. Fear is mostly an introvert feeling and here we have one of the most introvert albums of this charismatic band.
The album is comprised of five big compositions, which – most of them – are in turn divided in smaller pieces – sections. Every piece – participating loyally in the whole that the creators envisioned -, will bring on time its own dynamics. So, music will flow and while the compositions are rather big, you will not realise when you have reached the end of this masterpiece.
If you love the Brave” / “Afraid Of Sunlight” period of the band, if you belong to those few who have stayed up at night listening the acoustic practices of “The Great Escape”, then this record is your cup of tea. The album will flow slowly – very slowly and will demand your attention in its every bit, every minute of it. So you can be able to assemble yourself in your own mind the new Marillion soundscapes piece by piece.
This 18th album has some grey shades as well. Some really underground charged parts and some outbreaks. It demands repetitive listenings. It starts with a bitter “El Dorado”, which is one of the most accomplished creations of the band – the last years at least –. Its almost mitigating intro will be toppled by a stream of melodic themes in a familiar attitude, keyboards and piano in the foreground and are we setting sails for finding gold? Steve Hogarth sounds almost anxious as the song is becoming gradually electrified… It has some intensive moments which are released gradually… From calmness to the small storm and back again… Maybe this is why you want to listen to it again and again.
The internal vehemence (especially in the epilogue) of “Living in Fear” will most probably take the listener away at least till “The Leavers”. Its narrative nature will remind us firstly why we love this band in general and secondly that as much as it changes and transforms, as much as the stylistic approach in the music they give to us matures through the years, Marillion always remain a charming British Prog band.
Listen again and again to the intro of “White Paper”, it sounds like the initiation of a whirl, a whirl of white shades in motifs of melancholic optimism. It is the second song of the album that – along with “Living In Fear” -, does not necessarily follow the motifs of musical unities and stands on its own. You can listen to it even in a compilation made for car rides for example – but in a case like that I would chose “Living In Fear” it is a somehow more intense song-.
Nevertheless, since we are talking about Marillion it is justifiable that the listener who knows what is going on will seek for greater doses of those liberatingly pompous moments that the band has unsparingly given to us in the –recent– past and that are characteristic of them anyway. Here, dear reader/listener, you will need to wait until the last song of the album since “The New Kings” has exactly what you are looking for. This composition has such a dynamic, it peaks gradually and answers the question “Why Marillion is such a great band?” This song shines from the first moments of the intro, until the very end. Steve Hogarth performs each lyric with a clearly uncompromised intensity, either remaining introvert – in the pompous motif of the composition-, either breaking out eventually. Despite its big length the song is constantly on the repeat button. It is endued with such a completeness, that every time you listen to it, it fills the listener up. This song contains so many small miracles, but I will give time only to a particular one. Focus your ear on that guitar theme in 13:21 –which is the main thing for the next 20 seconds-, you will discover how accurately the Britons have eavesdropped almost every foggy shade of the “new” progressive sound of the last 20 years. I will also add “El Dorado” next to “The New Kings” in my reference on the “most complete creations –the last years at least-“ and for whoever is interested, this is my personal favourite moment of the album.
The band has given for some time now a very clear explanatory brand for the lyrics of every song. If you have taken the trouble to read, then you know… If you are waiting for the moment to chill out with the booklet in hand, I am not going to ruin it for you. That is why my babbling has been focusing until now mostly to the musical mapping of things. I will leave the rest to you reader/listener. Read, discover and connect the dots. Isn’t this the way it has always been? Let’s work along this traditional motif then. In order to have something to talk about with a wall or something, some luckier on the phone and the luckiest of all with a drink in hand, the main thing is to find companion to analyse with.
So, a new Marillion record. Of course you can’t get rid with that in no time. It needs its time and it has presents to deliver. I don’t know if you are going to find El Dorado’s gold in there, for sure there is music from the heart to listen to. Open your ears and tune in your antenna and begin the journey. It is not out of sheer luck that the band is releasing this album in Autumn. They know something. I said it in the beginning…