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3.11 | 486 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Marillion's final album of the millennium shows their infatuation with the internet in the album's title itself. This album came after the wake of the underwhelming Radiation and the preceding acoustic-driven This Strange Engine. I rate this album at the same level as This Strange Engine, because while the pop songs are varied and well performed, they aren't as good as they could be. Fortunately, though, the epics are as usual with Marillion the showpieces of the album and they really put forth all their creativity on these songs. There is no overly flashy playing on any musician's part and everyone works together to create an overall cheery atmosphere, yes, cheery... for Marillion that's something not normal.

The album opens with A Legacy, which is an overly long tune that despite the length, has a nice acoustic feel in the ending and some nice vocals from Hogarth throughout. The main riff of this song has that same Radiation feeling, but from the beginning one can already hear an vast improvement in feel and quality. Rothery offers some nice wah guitar on this track, one of the only tracks I can detect with wah from Rothery on it. Deserve has "single" written all over it in the vein that Kayleigh, Hooks in You, and Don't Hurt Yourself had "single" written all over them. Some slightly contrived sax opens up this song and a mediocre main riff, but other than that, it's not a bad pop song. Go has a slight ethereal feel to it, mainly because of spacey guitar fills and an underlying synth creating a floaty feel. Trewavas is really great on this track, offering a meaty bass line and keeping the track in time along with Mosley. Rothery's wavy guitar solo only helps heighten the atmosphere, which is very relaxed.

Rich starts off with a kick. Nice clean guitar chords mix well with the organ and the solo synth lines. Some Beatles-esque Hogarth harmonies break way into a very groovy verse. I'm quite fond of Mark Kelly's performance on this track, it brings back memories of his stellar work in the 80s. The chorus also has a nice Beatles feeling to it. Towards the end, Trewavas introduces a nice groovy bass line that takes the track to the ending. Enlightened has a mellow feeling to it, with some piano with some strong vibrato on it. The track really doesn't go anywhere special, though, it keeps the mellow pace and doesn't turn into anything out of the ordinary. Built-In Bastard Radar is a really rocky tune, with some great Rothery solo and riffing. The underlying organ line is interesting and it really kicks the album up a notch in mood. Tumble Down the Years is more or a less a prelude to the epics of the album. It isn't terribly interesting, though, and like Enlightened, it doesn't really go anywhere fast.

Interior Lulu is a sprawling 15 minute epic, and it's the longest piece Marillion had done since the title track to This Strange Engine. It begins with a nice bass/percussion groove with some floaty synths over it. Some well timed guitar harmonics and some interesting and dynamic riffing, the song builds up, albeit a bit slowly. About 1/3 into the song, Kelly gives his first solo on the album, a dynamic and varying synthesizer experiment that gives way into the enxt portion of the song. Rothery and Kelly are superb for the rest of the song, offering engaging and very creative riffing. Rothery offers many expansive guitar solos throughout the 15 minutes as well. It's my favorite song of the album, and one of the best Marillion epics of the past 15 years. House is the 10 minute finale to the album begins with some ethereal synths and some sparse piano. Immediately, the group kicks in and offers a very relaxed and moody atmosphere. It's another brilliant 10 minute song wonderfully composed and very well performed. Add in a trumpet solo and a great guitar motif by Rothery and you have yourself the finale to this album.

In the end, is a nice mix of pop and progressive rock. The final two songs on this album are perfect and really save the album from total disaster. That said, the pop songs range from fun to uninteresting. If it were just a record of pop songs, I would rate it as 2.5/5... but the two epics boost that overall rating 3.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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