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Marillion - Happiness Is The Road CD (album) cover

HAPPINESS IS THE ROAD

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

3.36 | 422 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

iguana
3 stars optimism is the key...

in fact, steve hogarth's apparent new found happiness is the key to the success of this album, following a rather hollow period in his life that is probably better documented elsewhere, which, as we all know has resulted in the utterly dreary, bland and whiny "somewhere else" in 2007. i came down really hard on that album in my review of it here, but, still being a huge fan and supporter of the lads that have provided an at times perfect soundtrack to all of my adult life, i thought that it would only be fair to give this all new offering a concise and critical dissertation.

and i'll go straight for the jugular: set one, "essence" is a straight ***** in my book.

it is virtually faultless, the warm ambience of its soundscapes, ideas and lyrics literally carries one off to a better place, if necessary, or even enhances the one that one's enjoying at the moment of listening. songs, if they can be called that, flow into each other and often rarely touch more than just one grand idea before the mood swings once more - it is rather like one big mantra, with h murmuring forth his ideas of finding solace and his inner sanctum, yet never preachy or obnoxious, but always within the context of the music, once more tastefully and masterfully presented by his bandmates. once more, newness and discovery prevails throughout with the new stax and marvin gaye influences that occur during parts of "nothing fills the hole" and "a state of mind". the haunting and chiming CP70 piano in "liquidity" will stay with the listener for a long time - hey, even the rough and ready and only very slightly silly hidden track "half full jam" only enhances "essence" as it brings everything back down to earth, albeit with many great ideas and those little whimsical details that marillion have become so good at.

mind you, though - "the hard shoulder", set 2, goes some way in dragging down the mark a little and it's slightly tarnishing influence will finally earn this album a good *** bordering on ****.

here we find many of these indie-ish ideas that marillion frequently dish out to prove that they can still cut it with the hippest of them without paying too much attention to the correct hair style (i am being cynical of course), however, never quite hitting the mark. the late60s psychedelia of "thunder fly" (complete with vox continental organ) has some nice movements and a lovely garage-y production yet ultimately seems to go nowhere, as does "the man from planet marzipan", which can be very very good indeed at times. latter day marillion fans will find plenty to enjoy, but it is a good idea of approaching this band with a clean slate and not a history of two decades of listening.

some songs like "older than me" and "real tears for sale" are quite lovely at times - but it is the stunning center piece of that CD, the sprawling space blues ambience of "asylum satellite #1" that grabs the high score. and, just like on "somewhere else" our big friend steven rothery totally steals the show on this one, as in many more great moments on these CDs. he seems to mature in his guitar playing like good wine and offers a stunning display of taste, mastery, innovation and creativity. like a great artist he paints the canvas laid out for him by the others, who are just as masterful in their performances.

one day, somebody will spray "rothers is god" onto a tube station wall - and we'll all acknowledge it with a knowing smirk...

iguana | 3/5 |

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