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Marillion - Anoraknophobia CD (album) cover

ANORAKNOPHOBIA

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

3.39 | 378 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars All joking aside.

The title appears to have been Marillion's attempt to demonstrate that they do after all have a sense of humour, and are not as serious as they appear to be. The album was accompanied by an equally humorous but rather dull sleeve. At the time of this release, the band were becoming increasing conscious of their "progressive rock" tag, and the associated dinosaur references which came with it. This resulted in them attempting to, as they saw it, turn their back on prog and seek to be acclaimed by the media with making "current" music.

"Anoraknophobia" is certainly different to their previous releases, but it's not as different as the band perhaps liked to think. Seen in retrospect, and in the context of both previous and subsequent releases, it is a natural progression (oops, nearly used the prog word there!).

Musically, the album resembles "Afraid of sunlight", but for my money does not match the quality of that album. The opening track, "Between you and me" is a straight forward piece of pop rock, with some U2 like guitar. Later, "Separated out" continues in a similar vein, with something of a wall of sound driving the beat. That track is dedicated to the band's fans, and the fact that they are prepared to stand up and be counted, despite "ridicule for their dedication to the cause".

"Map of the world" is the most commercial track on the album, with an almost Beach Boys feel to the high vocals on the very catchy chorus. That's really about it though in terms of up tempo songs, the remainder being ballad based. "When I meet God" typifies much of the Hogarth era Marillion output, with its delicate vocals and dreamy atmosphere. The punch-line here is the reference to "God" as she. Hogarth Marillion tracks such as this, of which there are many, tend to be rather hit or miss affairs. Sometimes they work very well, sometimes they become dull and tedious. "This is the 21st century" is one track where it does indeed work remarkably well. A 6 minute version of this track was posted on the band's website prior to the release of the album. The full version however lasts over 11 minutes, the latter half being an extended instrumental section.

Elsewhere, "The fruit of the wild rose" has the feel of an inferior version of "Afraid of sunlight", while "Quartz" sails dangerously close to including a rap section! The most controversial track however is reserved for last. "If my heart were a ball it would roll up hill" is a messy piece of self indulgence. It was clearly an attempt to push the boundaries with offbeat vocals, and various styles, closing with random lyrics from the other album tracks. A brave but misguided attempt at something different.

"Anoraknophobia" is almost entirely devoid of the fun implications of the title and sleeve illustration. Indeed, if there is a relationship between the title and the music, I have yet to spot it. As an album however, it is enjoyable, with some strong melodies, and fine performances. For me, it is not among the best of the Hogarth Marillion albums, but for those who enjoy the band's music, it is worthy of investigation.

The recording and creation of "Anoraknophobia" was funded entirely by fans of the band, over 12000 in all. Their reward was a double CD package, as distinct from the single disc version which sold to the masses.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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