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Marillion - Marbles CD (album) cover

MARBLES

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.11 | 783 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Did anyone see my last Marble?

(This review is for the one disc edition of the album.) Clearly Marillion had lost their Marbles and found them again at this point in their career. With their Fish days long behind them the band finally settles into a niche a long ways away from any kind of music they played in the early days of the 80s. Marbles is no Genesis-clone album, but nor is it some kind of pop album. While the album certainly does have its poppier moments (what Hogarth era Marillion album doesn't?), it seems that the band really nailed a style on this album.

One of the odd things about the album is that it really isn't 'neo' in the way that many neo-fans are used to. While the album certainly is progressive, this is not an overly symphonic affair with most of the songs using the quiet/loud approach more familiar to the post-rock realm. Songs like The Invisible Man start off in a soothing and quiet way, a kind of way where every string that's played means a lot - this eventually builds to an emotional climax where the voice comes in and makes a sharp remark, and it's done so well that it can give you goosebumps. Some of the other songs on the album are more pop-oriented, but no less impressive. Don't Hurt Yourself was the band's choice as a single for this album, and what a great track it is. While this track is certainly the most pop oriented song on the album, prog fans will certainly be able to enjoy Hogarth's wonderful delivery on this track, and besides, what wasn't pop about a song like Kayleigh or Incommunicado in the band's early days? Other standouts on the album include the wonderfully heavy and aggressive Drilling Holes and the calm and moving Fantastic Place.

One of the very cool things about the album is just how it's all tied together. Throughout the album there's a string of short title track segments that tell the sorry metaphorical tale of a boy growing up and ''loosing his Marbles''. Marbles I-IV are each about 1-2 minutes long and each one of them is very quiet with Hogarth's voice dominating. While they're nothing particularly special if played on their own, in the context of the album they work together quite well to tell the story while keep the album together thematically.

The finisher for the album is likely one of Marillion's best works. While the band has produced some quality work over the course of their career, including some wonderful suites and epics, this one comes very close to taking all the cakes. Neverland is an amazing song on all accounts, from the soft piano opening to the start of Hogarth's vocals to the final climactic finish. The echo effect on Hogarth's voice near the middle of the song is truly chilling along with the haunting guitar chords that simply ring. Beautiful from start to finish.

While the 1-disc edition certainly does miss out on a lot of the action there's no doubt that even in its trimmed down form this album is an excellent addition to any prog-rock collection. If you're still sore about Fish leaving the band hopefully you can look past that to see the new style that the band has grown into by this point, because there's a lot to love about it. 4-stars for this majestic piece of music.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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