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Marillion - Marbles CD (album) cover

MARBLES

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.11 | 761 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FunkyM
5 stars Marbles is Marillion's 2004 release and it came in both a single disc collection and a two CD set. Having heard that the best material was on the two CD set, I purchased it from marillion.com, which was the only way to obtain it at the time. I'm not sure whether that is still true in 2012 or not, but I would definitely recommend the double CD version of this album and that's the version I am going to discuss for the purposes of this review.

With that said... Marbles. It's a great album. Marillion had been sort of searching for an identity for several years prior to this album. With this release they found the musical style which seemed to fit them like a glove.

The album begins with "The Invisible Man" which starts on a spacey, almost electronic vibe. As the track progresses it builds into a frantic rhythm as vocalist Steve Hogarth sings what are, in my opinion, some of the best lyrics on a Marillion album since Fish left the band. The track them slows into a mellower, reflective section before building back up to the climax. "The Invisible Man" is a very impressive 13 1/2 minute start to the album.

We then move to "Marbles I", the first of four short eponymous tracks spaced throughout the albums that provide a sort of overarching, recurring theme for the album.

"Genie", "Fantastic Place" and "The Only Unforgivable Thing" are excellent pop/rock songs, as are many of the tracks on Marbles. That alone may be an anathema for some prog listeners, I suppose, but it's hard to find fault as the pop/rock tracks on this album are very intelligently written and immaculately performed. They are, in the opinion of this humble reviewer, pop songs made with a progressive sensibility. Especially "The Only Unforgivable Thing", which is definitely the stand out of the three tracks mentioned above.

After "Marbles II", the first half of the album closes with the epic 17 minute track "Ocean Cloud". If you were looking for a reason to get the two disc version of the album, this track is it. "Ocean Cloud" shows this era of Marillion at its full potential. It is a sweeping, spacey, proggy epic with Floydian guitars and haunting lyrics. Hogarth's vocals fit the music perfectly. For my money this is the best track they've recorded since Brave.

As the second half of the album opens we briefly revisit the theme with "Marbles III" before moving into another romping, memorable pop/rock track with "The Damage". This trend continues with the next track, the fantastic, wistful "Don't Hurt Yourself". Incredibly, this track and the next, "You're Gone" both made it onto the UK singles chart with "You're Gone" peaking at #7. It's not really surprising. "You're Gone" is one of the most commercial tracks on the album and one of the only ones that may slightly overstay its six minute running time, but it is still pretty enjoyable.

"Angelina" is a dreamy ballad sound that Marillion attempts to emulate a few times on the albums which follow Marbles. As you may expect, this track does it more successfully than most of them.

The following track, "Drilling Holes" comes with a bit of aggression that is a welcome change of pace this late in the album. It's a great rocking track that keeps things a bit off-kilter.

After the brief reprise of "Marbles IV", we arrive at the albums final track, "Neverland" and the band seems to have kept one of the best for last. "Neverland" is a great proggy (in the 'H' Marillion style) track to end an excellent album.

Overall: Marbles is an impressive album by Marillion. After a decade of a number of albums that seemed to have been made by a band looking for an identity, they deliver their best work since Brave. The fact that it is a double length album of consistent quality is also very admirable.

I'm sure prog fans will debate for years in regards to the inherent "progginess" of the album, but I find it easy to recommend this album. Hogarth era Marillion fans will find much to celebrate here.

4.5 rating rounded up to 5.

Highlights: "The Invisible Man", "The Only Unforgivable Thing", "Ocean Cloud", "The Damage", "Don't Hurt Yourself", "Drilling Holes", "Neverland"

FunkyM | 5/5 |

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