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Marillion - Afraid Of Sunlight CD (album) cover





3.77 | 654 ratings

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3 stars My second Hogarth album was bound to suffer from comparisons to my first, the stellar "Brave" album. "Afraid of Sunlight" is quite different to be sure. The album covers aspects of celebrity culture beyond the vanity, looking into the psyche of people who have experienced fame, success, and yet eventual destruction of one kind or another. Coming off an album that was very atmospheric and dark, they seem to be shooting for a more accessible style here, though there is still plenty of heavy darkness for the gloomy to enjoy. "Afraid of Sunlight" is a perfect title for an album that at the end of the day is asking us why we can't manage to be happy, even those who supposedly "have it all." Ironic because at the time, Marillion were feeling down due to the relative lack of commercial success of "Brave." They went so far as to buck their usual slow-paced songwriting process and bring in someone (Dave Meegan) to crack the whip and make autonomous decisions about what material would be pursued. The intention was to speed things up and no doubt experiment outside of their comfort zone. Some members were happier than others about this: Hogarth called it the best album they ever made while Kelly seemed concerned that something inherently "Marillion" may be lost by doing this. Kelly was correct.

The musical results leave much to be desired. The amazing atmospheres of "Brave" are gone and replaced by a constricted collection of "too many goals" to be anything that is truly exciting to me. This is an album that makes "The Final Cut" seem spontaneous. By the time the guitar solo in "Out of this World" kicks in I actually heave a sigh of relief, as it takes half the album to pop the tension bubble I have, the feeling like being in a suit too long and ripping it off for the t-shirt and jeans. It is only the middle third of the album that rescues things and allows a decent rating here. "Afraid of Sunrise" is lovely acoustic introspection, "Out of this World" is a stunner with an epic, dramatic feel akin to a later period Floyd track, and the title track is an emotional rocker that showcases the passionate vocals Hogarth is capable of. But the other five tracks are just DOA. "Beautiful" will please lovers of sappy balladry though Hogarth handles it much better than say, Labrie does. "Cannibal Surf Babe" is a silly contrivance meant to spoof the Beach Boys sound but without any of the charm of "Back in the USSR." "Gazpacho" and the last two tracks are the most labored for me to hear, lacking soul and simply laying out there flat. It's a 2 star album for me that I'm rounding up based on the quality of the playing and nice packaging-the version I have comes with a nice 2nd disc of extra goodies that will please Marillion fans very much. They also document the recording session in detail which I appreciate very much. I look forward to hearing more of the Hogarth era albums, which excite me more than the Fish stuff these days. But this one just didn't have the sunlight I expected.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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