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Marillion - Afraid of Sunlight  CD (album) cover

AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

3.78 | 460 ratings

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Fishy
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Back in 1995, this album surprised me as being a decent and very enjoyable Marillion- album released only a year after the release of the previous album. "Brave" was a good attempt to re-visit musical adventurous territories but the album surely had some flaws as some parts clearly lacked inspiration. "Afraid of sunlight" is better, the melodies are more enjoyable, the compositions are solid and the keyboard parts have regained their substantial part in the sound of the band. This is a bit of a concept album but not in the traditional sense. There's some general idea's throughout the whole album and the lyric on every track shows another aspect of life that has something to do with the consequences of being a star like Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain or Brian Wilson but the songs stand pretty much on their own. On several points there seems to be excerpts from news bulletins which should give you a clue about the main characters who found themselves in the situation which the lyrics of this album try to describe. From a lyrical point of view there seems to be some references to an album like "Clutching at straws" where Fish also sings about the miserable lives of some great stars. Lyrically the opening track "Gazpacho" is the perfect opener. This is a traditional Marillion track that musically could also have been included on an album like "Seasons end". Same thing 'bout "Beautiful", a calm song with a simple, yet enjoyable, melody. No wonder this was released as a single. "Cannibal surf babe" must be the strangest song the band ever recorded. Kind of a mixture of prog, surf and grunge. This is quite an original song which I personally like a lot but it sounds totally different when compared to the rest of the tracks and I know some fans hate it. If this was an lp format I would especially recommend the B side. From "out of this world" on, musical greatness is beginning to show. Not much uplifting stuff tough and maybe this is the reason why I rarely give the album a spin during the last couple of years. The mood of the music must have been affected by the way Steve Hogarth felt at the time : miserable and confused after being used by the business. "Out of this world" is a great song, really old school Marillion stuff : paralysing keyboard driven atmospheres, delicate percussion, the traditional guitar solo interrupting on the right moment and a sad sounding Hogarth on top of all this. Especially the ending part is reminiscent to "Misplaced childhood but the atmosphere also has some new age elements. The chorus of "Afraid of sunlight" sounds dramatic. The music is highly symphonic, the arrangements delicate and once again, the vocal lines and lyrics are sounding sad but very romantic. A brilliant, moving track which deserves to be the title track. When you thought you had the most depressing track, the mood turns out to be even more sombre in "Beyond you". A very beautiful track with multi-coloured keyboard sounds. Here the band sounds a bit like TalkTalk mainly due to the wonderful vocal parts but on the whole "Marbles" comes to mind the most. "King" is the absolute highlight of the album. Here the influences of grunge are obvious which is noticeable by the meaty and rough guitar sounds. Soon this turns out to be another sad song. The quiet intimacy of Hogarths voice on top of a piano parts are combined to majestic outbursts including violent guitar riffs and timeless organ sounds. The musical climax at the end seems somewhat reminiscent to the instrumental part at the end of "Starship Trooper" from Yes but only more heavy.

Musically this album re-established the band as one of the leading bands of progressive rock in the first half of the nineties. I always have the feeling this album wasn't promoted proper when it was released otherwise it would have sold a lot better than it actually did. This album has everything a prog lover needs. Ten years after this has been released it doesn't sound dated at all, only timeless. No wonder the band still played this album as a whole on a gig which took place not very long ago. Although both music and arrangements are most interesting, the vocals are definitely dominant and you won't find any real instrumental excerpt without vocals. Especially the second part of the album is only suitable for playing when the listener is not feeling very well emotionally. For other occasions the complaining vocals full of sorrow may just be too much.

Fishy | 4/5 |

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