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Marillion - Clutching At Straws CD (album) cover





4.14 | 1231 ratings

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4 stars I believe this is one of Marillion's strongest albums, if not their top release to date.

Here we have the band having discovered its own sound an album or two previously, no longer the Genesis clones that they pretended to be in their debut. Instead, we have a band focused on tight melodies and gentler neo-prog music. Lyrically, the album is very dark and rather depressive, focusing on patrons in a bar trying to drink away problems and all that. I heard from a friend once that Marillion are the sort of band that can turn you into a depressed alcoholic just by listening to them. Maybe that's true, but while the lyrics are fairly universally dark, the music does not muddle around the same way. Rather, it provides a light at the end of the tunnel, if you will, and keeps the overall mood from seriously dragging the listener down. Another strength of this album is the way the songs interact and flow: we have an album here that was built together and works together, rather than the mildly disjointed flow of the debut.

The first three tracks are linked together musically, as well as lyrically. They provide a nice flow to pull the listener into the album gently but very effectively. Just for the Record and Incommunicado are probably the two highest energy songs on this record, adding in almost a little bit of fun on this moody release. White Russian, a mild and melancholic tune, sits between the two. The strongest and most interesting song on this album, however, is Sugar Mice, with absolutely perfect guitar work. Marillion is not a band known for throwing their instrumental prowess out there, but this track shows just a hint of what the boys can do as Steve Rothery breaks out his best solo ever. The rest of the tracks are quality but less exciting and less remarkable. On the whole, the album works so well together that it's easy to lose a track here and there in the flow.

This is Fish's last album with the band, and listening to this record makes me sad about that fact. I'm not necessarily in either the Fish or the H camp (a discussion that has divided most Marillion fans), but something in their music declines after this album. If you are interested in Marillion, this is a wonderful album to pick up. It's one of the strongest they wrote, and possibly one of the strongest in the entire neo-prog genre.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |


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