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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover

MISPLACED CHILDHOOD

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.25 | 1520 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In many ways this album is Marillion's most significant recording: "Misplaced Childhood" was not only their most successful album, but also the one in which the romantic essence of singer/lyricist Fish's heart met its most solid expression in musical terms: definitely, the communion between the four instrumentalists' ideas and Fish's tormented intimate imagery is 100 % cohesive in this absolute neo-prog cornerstone. Fish is no longer a singer who sometimes witnesses his surroundings and some other times looks into himself - for "Misplaced Childhood" he actually is what he sings about. Right from the vibrating melancholy displayed in the synth harmonies of the opener 'Pseudo-Silk Kimono' you can tell that this is going to be a sentimental journey of overwhelming proportions: this song's lyrics announce the prelude to an attempt to move over a period of infinite sadness, which means that the first step to be taken is look it straight in the eyes in order to trace back its roots and be prepared for redemption. Fish is no longer a singer who sometimes witnesses his surroundings and some other times looks into himself - he actually is what he sings about. Kelly's labour throughout the album is more subdued than in Marillion's previous two efforts, but still his keyboards are the most prominent sonic source: his orchestrations and harmonic layers (plus some occasional solos) serve as the repertoire's crucial focus around which Rothery's melodic sensitivity and Trewavas/Mosley's effective rhythmic foundation create the successive moods for all the diverse sections comprised in the album. By now, Marillion stands closer to "The Wall"-era Pink Floyd than Gabriel-era Genesis. 'Kayleigh' is a classic prog ballad, a sad invocation for regret and self-blame: immediately after, 'Lavender' brings the hope of wishful thinking under a nursery rhyme-meets-Elton John's guise. This other ballad is more properly a transitional passage between 'Kayleigh' and 'Bitter Suite', the first of two suites contained in "Misplaced Childhood". Kicking off with a psychedelic instrumental section, things start to acquire a form with the sequence of bass drum and bass that sustains the keyboard and guitar's combined layers and Fish's first opening lines; then comes a brief Latin-jazz oriented bridge, followed by two slow tempo motifs. The 2-part 'Heart of Lothian' brings some Celtic-like stuff in Rothery's guitar leads and Kelly's complementing counter-leads during the 'Wide Boy' portion: the band manages to confidently shift from 7/8 to 5/4 to 4/4 seamlessly in a fluid continuum. 'Waterhole' finds the band displaying an exotic Arabesque motif with a rocky rough edge before turning into the syncopated mood of 'Lords of the Backstage'. 'Blind Curve' is the most complex of both suites, and it should be, since it contains the crucial turning point in the lyrics. The first three slow tempo motifs continue to explore the misery and solitude of the rock star and his unhealed wounds from the past, until the mesmeric presence of a child makes our hero aware of his urgent need to recover his lost innocence in order to stop his unhealthy appetite for self-destruction ('Perimeter Walk'); this weird experience allows him to open his eyes to the world and transcend his mere individuality ('Threshold'). That's when the celebratory spirit of 'Childhoods End?' comes in: this catchy number is more than a simplistic single-oriented song (something like 'Follow You Follow Me'-meets-'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic'), it's a manifesto of hope reborn. I see the march of merry children depicted in the Celtic-oriented 'White Feather' as a sharing of the truth that our hero has discovered about the very depths of human nature - innocence is the key to our will power. This happy ending is not without drama: the emotional tension still pervades the most optimistic tracks, but again, emotional tension is what "Misplaced Childhood" is all about. One noticeable minus point is Fish's decreased vocal energy: his dangerous drinking habits were starting to burn out his voice - but this is not a handicap for the band's overall effort, it's just a detail that does not essentially affect Fish's capability to convey genuine emotion through his singing. Rating: 4.25 stars for this album, not as powerful as "Fugazi" (my fave marillion album), but still brilliant in its own terms.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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