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4 stars Marillion refined the direction they had been moving in on the last two albums with this one. The inclusion of more drum loops this time show the band refuse to stand still. The songs are good as well but sometimes a little too long and overencompass the ideas.
Report this review (#12417)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2003 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another great album which is loved by the fans (particularly those who helped out in the funding of it...) with something for everyone. Map of the World and Between You and Me obviously the crowd pleasers most likely to appeal to the casual radio listener, whilst the more involved Marillion fan (those who like the longer the better) are kept happy with Quartz, 21st Century and Ball Uphill. A year after release I'm not sure it has the longevity of Sunlight and Season's End, but one of their better post Fish releases in my opinion
Report this review (#12418)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Marillion has been in the eye of the hurricane since Fish left the band, perhaps, the fans and other people thought that they might died with the loss of the main singer, however, the band has achieved a unique sound through the years, and perfected it with every record, sometimes, we pretend to hate it, but to be honest, this band is one of the best things in music around. This record is a triumph for themselves, the sound, the songs and the lyrics are very well structured, all of the arragements evokes old times and new times, the production is impecable and the artwork as complex as ever, mixing concepts with personalities improves the ideas the have nowadays. This is the welcoming of the band to the new century, an without a doubt is a good one
Report this review (#12423)
Posted Thursday, April 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, I only have the 1 cd version so I guess I am only entitled to review the 1st disc only :p~ Many would say that Anorak is one of Marillion's weakest effort up to date. Yes, I join their mailing groups and (I guess) more people in there somewhat dislike this album. On the other hand, I love Anorak. I may even say this one is their hightlight album since Afraid Of Sunlight. I am not saying they're going in the right tracks. It's just the feeling of listening Marillion tracks that I have been missing during the "This Strange Engine/Radiation/Marillion.Com" albums is present in Anorak. The first four tracks are like throwing my head to the floor and say "this is it...!!" Especially on "Map of The World" and "When I Meet God", these 2 songs are lyrically beautiful. The low point that I think could have been avoided is the song "If My Heart...". This song seems never gets on to me. I just can't stand listening it :-) Too bad that it is on the last track either. [Davidewata; Indonesia]
Report this review (#12425)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Marillion is, without a doubt, one of the greatest and more eclectic bands of all time, listen to his first works and then, listen to the last ones, they have been growing step by step and keeping their identity and his fantastic playing. This one is an excellent album, along with their last great "Marbles", the best since his masterpiece "Brave"; it can also be compared with the quality of "Afraid of Sunlight", even better. Very different sound from the first Hogart era, but better than "Holidays in Eden" or "Seasons end". Marillion goes on being a reference por prog fans. Long live them
Report this review (#12426)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars listening to it the first time I was impressed... especially by the second track 'quartz' - in my opinion one of their best tracks ever! there were some other nice or interesting tracks but overall I can't give more than 3 stars... why? I think it can't compare to their best efforts like 'brave', in addition I had the feeling the vocals sound a little bit empty on this one. at least the booklet is quite funny...
Report this review (#12427)
Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Marillions music seems to have slowly diminished to the point that hogarth`s now whispering through the majority of tracks & the overal sound`s comparible to those annoying aromathearopy/hippy tapes of dolphins & whales mating.Call it ignorance on my part,failure to recognize artistic integrity,creative genius, originality and...... chinese bell sounds which seem to jangle on endlessly... whatever, it`s all above me.I`m just a rock fan. This albums Okay but they seem to have lost their originality/identity somewhere along the way, more importantly,their `omph` factor. I honestly never thought I`d say this but since around Holidays in Eden,they`re just pedalling the same tedious crud. I feel sorry for older fans who raised funds for their latest 98minute epic compilation of `sleep enducing torture`.I think it`s fair enough when a band take a different musical direction but they shouldnt really coast on previous success or cover old songs.They proclaim they`re no longer a prog band, then they do, then they dont.Not that anyone really cares about catagorization but I wish they`d make up their minds & stick to some formula that`s A LITTLE MORE EXCITING!! Better still, change their name completely so that twits like me dont go out buying their stuff,hoping for a little regression back to the neo prog days.

Have a suggestion for a new name: RadioBread?

Report this review (#12430)
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I bought this CD, I only did it to complete my collection of Marillion albums cos I don`t really like "" or "radiation". To my surprise, Anoraknophobia was not as worse as I thought. This CD isn`t Prog but it contains 2 songs, I really love, This Is The 21st Century and When I Meet God, they are really pearls, even if they are listened in an other envionment. In my car I used to listen them together with a few other smooth songs and that works really great. In my opinion Anoraknophobia is better than the two albums before, but doesn´t reach the quality of "brave" or TSE, it could be the right step to go forward where they came from.
Report this review (#12432)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars All joking aside.

The title appears to have been Marillion's attempt to demonstrate that they do after all have a sense of humour, and are not as serious as they appear to be. The album was accompanied by an equally humorous but rather dull sleeve. At the time of this release, the band were becoming increasing conscious of their "progressive rock" tag, and the associated dinosaur references which came with it. This resulted in them attempting to, as they saw it, turn their back on prog and seek to be acclaimed by the media with making "current" music.

"Anoraknophobia" is certainly different to their previous releases, but it's not as different as the band perhaps liked to think. Seen in retrospect, and in the context of both previous and subsequent releases, it is a natural progression (oops, nearly used the prog word there!).

Musically, the album resembles "Afraid of sunlight", but for my money does not match the quality of that album. The opening track, "Between you and me" is a straight forward piece of pop rock, with some U2 like guitar. Later, "Separated out" continues in a similar vein, with something of a wall of sound driving the beat. That track is dedicated to the band's fans, and the fact that they are prepared to stand up and be counted, despite "ridicule for their dedication to the cause".

"Map of the world" is the most commercial track on the album, with an almost Beach Boys feel to the high vocals on the very catchy chorus. That's really about it though in terms of up tempo songs, the remainder being ballad based. "When I meet God" typifies much of the Hogarth era Marillion output, with its delicate vocals and dreamy atmosphere. The punch-line here is the reference to "God" as she. Hogarth Marillion tracks such as this, of which there are many, tend to be rather hit or miss affairs. Sometimes they work very well, sometimes they become dull and tedious. "This is the 21st century" is one track where it does indeed work remarkably well. A 6 minute version of this track was posted on the band's website prior to the release of the album. The full version however lasts over 11 minutes, the latter half being an extended instrumental section.

Elsewhere, "The fruit of the wild rose" has the feel of an inferior version of "Afraid of sunlight", while "Quartz" sails dangerously close to including a rap section! The most controversial track however is reserved for last. "If my heart were a ball it would roll up hill" is a messy piece of self indulgence. It was clearly an attempt to push the boundaries with offbeat vocals, and various styles, closing with random lyrics from the other album tracks. A brave but misguided attempt at something different.

"Anoraknophobia" is almost entirely devoid of the fun implications of the title and sleeve illustration. Indeed, if there is a relationship between the title and the music, I have yet to spot it. As an album however, it is enjoyable, with some strong melodies, and fine performances. For me, it is not among the best of the Hogarth Marillion albums, but for those who enjoy the band's music, it is worthy of investigation.

The recording and creation of "Anoraknophobia" was funded entirely by fans of the band, over 12000 in all. Their reward was a double CD package, as distinct from the single disc version which sold to the masses.

Report this review (#12433)
Posted Monday, April 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am now going through the SH era albums, and I am positively surprised. There are some real hiden treasures there. And this album is one of them. I like it very much. It makes me younger. When I was a teen I liked the most of all Misplaced childhood. Now, i do not listen to it very much. If I was a teen now, I think this one would be my best favorite. It is modern, but not superficial,hard and soft, it is like a modern pop music should be like. Full of beautiful melodies, instrumental skills, a tough drive and deep feelings. And thematically it is also going deep, being not vulgar like most of modern stuff uses to be. Great album. Listen to it, children of the light.
Report this review (#12434)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A remarkably good piece of work...Maybe one of the best of the ''Hogarth''-era!Of course any of you who reject Marillion for been pop must stay away of it!This album is a lot pop- influenced especially in songs as ''map of the world''( the most catchy of the album) and "between you and me''(this is TO close to u2 i think!),but i don't think that this is a problem!"This is the 21st century'' appears to be the best song of the album :ambient mostly with inspired lyrics!The "fruit of the the wild rose" and ''when i meet god" reminded me the older marillion stuff.''Seperated out'' was a funny one and "if my heart..." was also good.What i appreciated most of this album was Kelly's keyboards and Rothery's clever use of giutar in ''this is the 21st century''for creating a ''cyber''atmosphere.On the other hand I was annoyed a bit by Hogarth's voice in certain cases(like "map of the world");it was to ''popish''!I'll give four stars.
Report this review (#12435)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was a welcome return to form! Anorak is a very accomplished album and proved that Marillion still had plenty of life left in them. I almost give this album 5 stars but I cant due to the last track, If my Heart were a Ball... It is very enjoyable but essentially a rather long jam session! Quartz is excellent However!
Report this review (#41383)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of the better Hogarth albums of the newer "Marillion" sound. The album starts off in uplifting rocky fashion with "Between you and me" which has a very "The Who" sound to it. In other places i can detect a bit of 80's Clapton. "Quartz" has more of a rhythmic feel to it which is almost laid back jazzy- but it works. A good solid song. "Map Of The World" however sounds like something "The Carpenters" might have done. Straight polite pop fare, well played but nothing much really. "The fruit of the wild rose" is one i am undecided on. Sometimes i love it and at other times i have to skip it. A strange love/hate relationship with this one have i. "Separated Out" gets things back on course again with that almost "The Who-ish" sound making a return on another solid rocking number which in my opinion is one of the best of the Hogarth era to date. "This Is The 21st Century" is slow, dreamy and dare i say a good song to cuddle up to your girlfriend to, with candles and joss sticks, and maybe a few wind chimes tinkling away in the background, and a smell of peach blossom in the air. A great summery song. Finally we come to the magnificent "If my heart were a ball ( It would roll uphill )" It starts off in eerie, almost disturbing fashion, building up the tension, until Steve Rothery comes in with some angsty Black Sabbath like riffing. The song continues to twist and turn in some interesting ways, taking in a bit of that old "Marillion" sound mixed with "Radiohead" and strange as it may sound, also Hermans Hermits. This is where the album ends for me. I just found the extra disc unecessary. All in all a good balance of well crafted pop and some nice newer progressive elements. Certainly worth your attention.

Cheers Chit

Report this review (#45317)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of those Marillion albums that can neither be described as amongst their best, nor amongst their worst. It is, in fact, an average album. Better than recordings such as Radiation, This Strange Engine or Brave, but not as good as Afraid Of Sunlight, Marbles, or the earlier Fish-led works. The opener, 'Between You And Me' is excellent; an uptempo, melodic song that is, indeed, catchy. The band work well here, showing they have been together a long time. 'Quartz' is another strong song. Again, it is quite uptempo, but has a lovely quieter interlude in the middle, with Mark Kelly's keyboards sounding particularly effective. One of my favourites this one. 'Map Of The World' is a little too much on the popish side for me, but is still built around a decent melody. The sort of song you would never have caught Fish performing! 'When I Meet God' slows the tempo right down, and is another favourite of mine. Hogarth sounds in fine form here, as does Trewavas. In fact, it has to be said that Trewavas is maybe the most consistent player throughout the album. The song has quite poignant lyrics too. 'The Fruit Of The Wild Rose' is also good, but not quite up there with the best as far as I am concerned. It is another quite slow, dreamy piece, mixed with another strong melody. 'Separated Out' raises the tempo again, but is not amongst my favourites. Nice musicianship again, but, as on the whole album, not much soloing. (Oh for the days when Rothery would let rip, or Kelly would play a Banks-inspired solo!) 'This Is The 21st Century' is a slow to mid tempo song, and another good one. Nice vocals from Rothery on this one, and an atmospheric background to compliment him. Unfortunately, the album finishes with the weakest track on it, the not very impressive 'If My Heart Were A Ball...'. Rothery sounds ok, but the song itself is quite weak. A pity really. I don't have the two disc version, so cannot comment on the bonus material, but the one disc version is certainly worthy of a listen or two. I don't play it often, but it is nice to hear now and again.
Report this review (#67877)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Aahhh, Anoraknophobia: the disc that put Marillion back on track. After the less-than-impressive, Marillion stormed back with a disc that re-established them as a world class act. Is it Brave? Oh no. Is it Misplaced Childhood? Nu-uh! What Anoraknophobia is is a disc by a band who aren't afraid to take risks. To stay with the trend without jeopardizing their integrity.

"Between You And Me" is an uptempo rocker that really sounds great live. Hogarth's voice has a grittiness to it, but still has that ever present power. Missing is a solo by Rothers, but he still manages to anchor the group with some great rhythm guitar work, and allows Kelly to add some nice keyboard work.

One of the surprises of the album is "Quartz", which is quirky and almost has a club quality to it. Probably one of Trewavas' best performances by driving the song with a funky bass line and the band just explodes on the chorus. Not since Brave has Hogarth given it as much emotion as on Anoraknophobia. Towards the end, in almost a fit of anger he declares, "I need maintenance! I need patience! I'm not foolproof! I'm not waterproof! I'm not shockproof, bombproof, bulletproof, fireproof, leakproof, childproof, stainproof, pressureproof!" Definitely one of the highlights of the whole disc.

I think "Map Of The World" was their attempt to make it back to the radio. Here in America the radio is about as exciting as Golden Girls repeats, so whether this worked elsewhere is unbeknownst to me. It has a radio hit written all over it, and they even went to an outside source for help in Nick Van Eede of Cutting Crew. What they gave us is a beautiful song that should've made it to the radio Mark Kelly provides great symphony-like keyboards, while Pete Trewavas holds it all together with some fine bass work. "Map Of The World" tells the story of a girl dreaming to see other places and experience life outside of her every day and tiresome world.

"She'll empty the sand from her shoes/In Paradise Sail out across the bay/She'll dance under an island sky/Until the break of day/She's got a map of the world/Pinned up on her wall/It's such a beautiful world/Glistening and magical."

This has always been a favorite of mine and still is. Great song!

"When I Meet God" took a little while to catch on... and it really didn't until I heard the live version on Popular music. It almost has a hint of the 80's with Kelly's keyboards and with the odd voice towards the end, but is still a good little tune. Not my favorite, but quickly earning my respect.

"Fruit Of The Wild Rose" keeps this from being a perfect album, in my opinion. It has a nice little jazzy section towards the end and some nice vocals by H, but one I haven't been able to latch onto yet.

A song dedicated to all the freaks, "Separated Out" really pushes the envelope. Producer Dave Meegan loves to have dialogue and voices in everything he produces, and has sound from a movie (The Sound clips used in this track are from cult 1930's Tod Browning film Freaks) playing along to help out with the story. "Separated Out" has a rockin' beat and gets Anoraknophobia back on a steady path after a couple of slower songs.

Anoraknophobia closes out with two songs clocking in around 9-11 minutes. The first of the two is "This Is The 21st Century" and we see Marillion tinkering with drum loops. Rothery experiments with different guitar effects to give it a Pink Floyd-ish vibe. Very odd lyrics, but ones that shows that Hogarth is an always thinking and questioning eccentric. One of the more surreal songs in Marillion's history, but one I really enjoy.

And a song that I've really come to love is "If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill". This song just hardly lets up. Mosley has never been a particular favorite of mine (good drummer, just not the style I look for in drummers), but he really shows a lot of power on this tune. The band does as a single unit. On this and throughout. Very emotional song!

Like I said, I think this is the disc that put them back on the right path. Hogarth has long since bid farewell to his co-conspirator, John Helmer (who came on to do some lyrics after Fish left and then stuck around), and has does a great job as the band's primary lyricist. The band really nailed it on this one and gave them momentum to create their 3rd (or 4th, if you count Afraid Of Sunlight) masterpiece in Marbles a couple of years later. Excellent work!

Report this review (#71141)
Posted Saturday, March 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An easy listening prog .

Not quite sure whether this album still can be considered as prog or not because it seems to me that band had made an effort to get away from neo prog category of its music. Yes, you can find it at the album icon, Barry, which is described as disliking neo prog. It's not my intention to talk about music category here, I just want to have some words with respect to this album. I only have the single CD version from EMI and even I got the CD quite late - about one year - after official release date. It was for a simple reason: I don't really like the cover which seemed like copying the icons of children movies Teletubbies. It has a very poor artwork, I would say - or at least for my personal taste. But my wise friends told me that I should not judge the music by its cover so I followed his advice and finally purchased the CD.

As I had no preconceived mind or expectation about the kind of music Marillion offered with this album so I just spun it and I could enjoy it right away. Why? The music is so simple and does not require me to think about music complexity typical prog music offers. Say the opening track "Between You and Me" (6:28) it's basically a nice track in medium tempo with tight beat and good rhythm guitar. It's hard to deny that this is a good track as the music flows naturally. So is the case with "Quartz" (9:07) which has a thick bass lines combined with stunning guitar rhythm which shape a music in groove style. Again, common music buffs would easily digest this track with no difficulty at all. As matter of taste I enjoy the guitar rhythm combined with mellotron-like sound and excellent voice of Hogarth.

"Map of The World" (5:02) is basically a pop song with a straight forward structure. "When I Meet God" is a nice song performed mellow using keyboard as background and excellent voice of Hogarth. What surprised me - when the first time I first played this album - was "This Is The 21st Century" where it did not attract me at all at first listen because it's so boring. Lately, I found that this track is excellent and I truly enjoy how the music flows nicely.

It's a good album. For those who has been familiar with the music of Porcupine Tree, Radiohead or other prog with ambient style, this album may suit your taste. Good thing also, beside music, the sonic quality is reallygood. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#72954)
Posted Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars This is maybe the strangest album from Marillion...

After trying to renovate themselves in "Radiation" and "" and not achieving it completely, they tried to go a step further with "Anoraknophobia"... This is a very eclectic record, with some new sounds and styles never heard before in Marillion. There's some funky influences in Fruit of the Wild Rose, Quartz have some rap verses from Steve Hogarth (really strange thing indeed...), This is the 21th Century has some electronic feeling in a similar way of trip-hop... But here are also typical marillion tunes here. Between you and Me is a good opener, very modern sound and good guitar playing at the end, but it's still pure Marillion... Map of the World is, for me, the best song of the album. Really beautiful, a song wich could easily had been in "This Strange Engine". Catchy tune...

And the classical Marillion song structures are also in When I Meet God, a good tune, and Quarz... And Separated Out is the typical rocker from Marillion, reminiscent from songs like An Accidental Man or Deserve. But like I said, the overall feeling of the album is different... It's a more electronic album, with a lot of effects and strange keyboards arrangements. And sometimes the results are not really satisfactory... Quarz is not bad, but some experiments like the rap verses spoils a little the song (but the bass lines and the final choirs are good...) Separated Out is just insipid... Fruit of the Wild Rose is too different of what I expect from Marillion to enjoy it completely... And If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill is just boring for me. The worst song of the album in my humble opinion...

Conclusion: maybe the most experimental album from Marillion. It has some interesting new facts wich make it special, but some things are too weird and untypical from Marillion to allow the whlole enjoying of the album. Maybe it's just a problem of my personal preferences...But of course, some songs like Between You and Me, Map of the World and When I Meet God, and maybe This is The 21th Century too, are obligated for every Marillion's fan.

My rating: ***

Report this review (#75799)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Marillion's Anoraknophobia is a light album that could easily be pop-alternative in it's own way if the songs were shorter and less progressive. Of course, it doesn't sound like 80's Marillion either! But still, most of the songs in here are pretty enjoyable. I'm pretty sure any prog fan will appreciate, but only a few will really love. A good release, but I unfortunatly got tired of it pretty fast. I'll finish by suggesting their 2004 album, Marbles, if you enjoyed this one. Another light record from Marillion but often considered better than Anoraknophobia... You decide!
Report this review (#82138)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Marillion's first album of the new millennium is a vast improvement over their previous 3 albums, This Strange Engine, Radiation, and While This Strange Engine and had their moments of pure gold, Radiation left a lot to be desired, and luckily by the time .com came out they had improved everything that was wrong with it. This album, coming out two years after, shows even more improvement as the group was becoming involved in more technically advanced and more modern. The music on this album itself is a refreshing mix of well used keyboards and guitars with a solid foundation of bass and drums at its core. The songs on this album all are longer than the past few Marillion affairs as well, with 3 songs hovering around 9 minutes and one 11 minute track. Does this show album show a more progressive Marillion at work? To some extent yes, but to some extent no.

The album opens with Between You and Me, which is a glorified pop song. Now, all the pop songs on this album are high quality, very well produced, and very catchy on top of all that. This song's chorus is very catchy and I'm quite fond of the guitar work from Rothery on this one, really clever work from him here. Quartz is the first 9 minute song on this album, and it really drives one home with a fantastic groove kept alive by the powerful bass of Pete Trewavas. Steve Hogarth shines on this track with powerful vocals and very well written lyrics. The drumming from Mosley on this track is also top notch. Map of the World is the most blantantly pop song on the album, but it's also got an infectious chorus that will keep you singing it every time you hear it. The keyboard work on this track is stellar, as well. When I Meet God is a bit of an odd rocker that utilizes some looping voices towards the beginning and end, and the keyboards from Kelly bring back memories of the kind of things he was doing in the 80's.

The Fruit of the Wild Rose is the weak link of the album, in my opinion. It's very unfitting and it really disturbs the natural flow of the album. On top of that, it drags out of bit with an overly long jazzy instrumental section towards the end. Seperated Out puts the rocking juices back into this album. It really has a natural kick to it that Trewavas and Mosley drive home with terrific rhythmic approaches. This is the 21st Century is one of the best Marillion epics to ever be recorded. I say this because musically this song is perfect. It has interesting bits of experimentation from Rothery (his guitar tones and effects on this song are very different than anything he's ever done) as well as a great extended instrumental section in which each member can really flesh out what they are doing on their respective instruments. It's the strongest piece on the album and the best Marillion piece to come out since the title track on This Strange Engine. If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill ends the album with 9:28 of solid rock 'n roll. Strong riffs and chord progressions as well as extremely strong vocals from Hogarth are featured here, and it ends the album in a terrific and uplifting fashion.

In the end, Marillion's first album in the new millennium was a definite step in the right direction. Their next album, Marbles, is at par with this album, as that album had the same great balance of progressive rock and solid pop. Any Marillion fan will enjoy this, and any casual fan of progressive rock will find enjoyment in this album as well. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#82153)
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars As a Marillion fan, this album really disappointed me. It is hardly note-worthy as a prog album, in fact, it is not very proggy at all. If it were not labeled prog I would give it a better review, because, despite the fact it is decent as a pure rock album, it is hardly amazing as prog. The album title (in case you were wondering) comes from the term "anorak" (the hoodies worn by the figures on the front cover) and the word arachnophobia. It was an odd sort of success, as it sold plenty of CDs before even being recorded. Marillion asked people to pre-order the album before they started recording it, and it was unexpectedly successful, the pre-ordered CDs containing more than the normal CD did.

It is really like "Marillion" mixed with some band like "U2", while I like U2, I would never give them a good rating based on prog, and I can't in good conscience do that to this album either. It is essentially a pop-rock album, and not an amazing pop-rock album either. The only notable song on the album is "This is the 21st Century", though it starts off with an annoying drum track. After you get past the drum track, it is really an enjoyable experience listening to the song. Steve Hogarth lays out a smooth, flowing cool rhythm to his lyrics, inflecting in the just the right places, he makes this song shine. Really, the worst part of the album was the last song, "If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill", I honestly think if they never put this song on the CD, I would have given it a three-star review. The song is infuriatingly annoying, and I had to literally force myself to listen to it to make this review accurate. I absolutely can't stand the last song, it is one of those songs that would make a whole album much better if it did not exist. The rest of the songs are particularly annoying, though "Map Of The World" can be catchy in spots.

I end with this, if you are a Marillion fan, you will still get some enjoyment out of Anoraknophobia. As a fan, I just enjoyed hearing another of their albums, even if it wasn't very good, but musically, this album isn't worth much. If you are looking for a good Marillion CD to start with, don't use this one, it will give you the wrong impression.

Report this review (#107166)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I don't understand this mess around this album. I remember the excitement of the fans (especially Polish) when it was realeased and the opinions about this 'best Marillion album ever' so they said. I also remeber that in one of the auditions in Polish Radio 3 the fans voted for 'This Is the 21st Century' as the best Marillion song in all their history. I really couldn't understand the chiose of Polish fans.

The truth is that this album is boring. I admit that another modification of Marillion's music style is a good thing. It means that the musicians are still searching for their way od expresion. But 'Anoraknophobia' is a mistake.

Only first two tracks on this album are worth of listening:'Between You and Me' and 'Quartz'. Especially the second one of these is really great.

Unfortunetly the rest of the album is not that good. 'Map of the World' is not to interesting, it seems that they wrote it to hit the music charts. 'Friut of the Wild Rose' and 'When I Meet God' are played in the same tune and it hard catch which one is which. Heavy played 'Separated Out' is the last good song on this album because the following two ones leave bad feeling after listening of them. 'This is the 21st Century' is played by the same rhythm through all these 11 minutes of the songs and it makes You tired and 'If My Heart...' is too heavy for me.

Report this review (#110928)
Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Exceptionally refined and artistic music that slithers its way between the gulf of progressive and mainstream rock; "Anoraknophobia" is as excellent as it is infectiously addictive, with the band playing better than (almost) ever before and turning out a variety of songs that both move and inspire. There really is a little bit here for everyone here.

"Between You and Me" is a powerful, upbeat opener that will instantly put the listener in a good mood (set it as your alarm clock tone!) while the intensely emotive "When I Meet God" and "This is the 21st Century" will send chills up the spine. There isn't a weak track on this album and the band's hybrid art/pop sound will set its hooks for good.

As for the band itself, it seems as if they have rediscovered their enthusiasm for their playing, since all of their performances are stand out and dynamic. Rothery plays his best guitar solos in years while the rhythm section is tight and inventive throughout. Kelly incorporates his keyboard expertly as well, skipping the solos of their previous albums and contributing much more in the way of dynamics and textures.

All in all an easy album to fall in love with, and a great introduction to the band.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#117220)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars In order to be able to record this album, Marillion Mark II will have it pre-paid by its fans. Original idea to say the least. It will be one of the only originalities for this album.

The opening number is rather pleasant, I admit. Good rhythm, even Hogarth sounds interesting. Rothery again is in good shape (it seems that it happens more and more on late Marillion Mark II albums). This song rocks alright, but I am afraid that it will one of the very few good stuff available on "Anoraknophobia".

The confirmation comes immediately : "Quartz" has a funky flavour which is not at all my cup of tea. This long song is totally uninspired. Press next although I am not sure that "Map Of The World" will be strong enough to wake you up. Just another and easy listening rock ballad. Nothing great, I'm afraid.

The following number is far too long (over nine minutes). To bear Hogarth's lamentations for such a long song is rather unpleasant for me. Vocals are over-exposed (I really wonder why because they are far from being interesting). His lack of passion is dangerously contagious...

We'll remain on the soft edge, but at least "The Fruit Of The Wild Rose" has a nice melody and some sorts of blues tint which at least brings a bit of variety. It reminds me "Beautiful" which was a very pleasant song. "Seperated Out" is my favourite track featured on this album. A good rocking song (simlilar in beat to the opening number). It was about time ! Finally, something dynamic to listen to.

I am not sure whether or not this band has a developped sense of humour but with the next song "This Is The 21st Century" I have learned at least that Marillion Mark II is aware that they are living in the 21st century. But they should also try and play 21st century music then, instead of releasing the same old stuff since 1989. This song is probably effective while you want to get asleep. But only is these circumstances. Since it clocks at over ELEVEN minutes, you'll have pretty much the time to do so. Another long Hogarth lamentation.

Another long one to finish. "If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill" (long title as well). This one is a bit different in its mood. The backing instrumental are somewhat resembling to Crimson (mainly in the starting phase), while Hogarth is above average and not so invading this time. Another bearable song.

Most of the songs should have been cut by half, to maintain a bit of an interest. Thinking that the ones who pre-paid this work also got the right to receive a special two CD-set version !

IMO, an EP with "Between You & Me", "The Fruit Of The Wild Rose" and "Seperated Out" would have been enough. Two stars.

Report this review (#131675)
Posted Saturday, August 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars You get the feeling that this is the album that MARILLION made to distance themselves from the prog genre. Incorporating Rap, electronics and Pop to make commercial sounding songs will tend to give that impression. Still out of the eight tracks I really like half of them.

"Between You And Me" is a good opening track that is fun, energetic and catchy. I like the line "Today ! I saw music in the sky". "Quartz" has some good bass driven verses that are almost funky. Spacey synths arrive 3 1/2 minutes in.The song gets heavier a minute later as Hogarth raps while Rothery plays a mournful melody. It turns mellow quickly before the heaviness returns. "Map Of The World" is a let down after two strong songs.This one is just too poppy.

"When I Meet God" I can take or leave. The organ 7 minutes in is a nice touch, but overall i'm not a fan of this tune. "The Fruit Of The Wild Rose" and "Seperated Out" both continue the disappointment for me. The latter song sounds like U2. The last two songs on the album along with the first two are really good though."This Is The 21st Century" is my favourite song on the record. It opens with Eastern sounds and I really like the spacey chorus. "If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill" is a bombastic song with passionate vocals. Rothery and Hogarth really standout on this track. There is a spacey interlude after 5 minutes.

I was more impressed with "Marillion.Com" then I was with this one, and I would put this on a par with "This Strange Engine".

Report this review (#132220)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Marillion's Anoraknophobia was more of the same and not nearly as different as we expected. It falls comfortably in line musically with its predecessor,, showing little progression in my opinion. My first listens of this CD were met with dissatisfaction and dim prospects for the group's future if they didn't turn it around soon. Fortunately for me, the CD has aged quite well and I include in my regular listens of Marillion. However, even though I find Anoraknophobia enjoyable, I must warn that it is still miles away from their Brave and Afraid of Sunlight albums. It is only marginally better than

I think many of us at the time were expecting something totally different after seeing the anorak-wearing Barrys holding coat hangers all over the cover, thinking this was some sort of tribute to South Park's Kenny McCormick. Like it's predecessors, Anoraknophobia is a mixed collection of mainstream and slightly progressive numbers, with Quartz, This is the 21st Century, and the unusually-titled If My Heart Were a Ball It Would Roll Uphill being the best songs on the album. Hogarth gives an emotional and powerful performance, his voice at probably the best of his career. But the focus on a more mainstream style doesn't give this talented group the room to explore the atmospherics and virtuosity it is capable of. Still, quite a good listen. Three stars. Good, but not essential.

Report this review (#144857)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Among their best with Hogarth.

This album is simply a set of separated songs - not a concept album. The tracks are varied and all have their own merits.

1. Between You And Me - A slow piano intro sets the track up to be rather sad, but instead, it jumps into a cheerful riff and holds together as a very active song. Great lyrics and the energy of this track make it stand out.

2. Quartz - Some people dislike the vocals on parts of this song, relating to them to rap. I don't mind them, as they only cover a small part of this track, and the rest of it is very good, with mixed feelings.

3. Map Of The World - If the riff doesn't captivate you, the chorus will. This track succeeds in being a more conventional rock song, with a good solo to match the style. Very good track, nice and catchy.

4. When I Meet God - Lots of emotion here, throughout. Slow, acoustic, sung with passion, with tempo changes and everything, a very good track.

5. The Fruit Of The Wild Rose - I've never taken much notice of this one. It's a bit dull, but I wouldn't know, as it hasn't stood out. The quiet bass riff is pretty cool, though.

6. Separated Out - Think Between You And Me on this track - they're every similar. An odd intro and some weird voices in the middle and end do not spoil this song. A good track.

7. This Is The 21st Century - A melancholy song with deep lyrics. The longest, and it lives up to it's track length. Some would feel it drags on, however, the length improves the song. Excellent track.

8. If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill - A very active track with a great chorus. There is a large vocal bias, which is a pity, because the instrumental sections are excellent, whilst brief. The end of the song becomes a build up towards a monumental finish. Great song.

If My Heart and Meet God contend for the best track on here, with 21st Century close by. If you're new to Marillion or Hogarth, this is an excellent album to get, due to the variation and awesomeness of the tracks. Worth all 4 stars.

Report this review (#186187)
Posted Friday, October 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I just love this album! It may not be the best Marillion album out there, but I always enjoy this one from start to finish. It contains a good combination of longer and more complex songs and some nice pop tunes. And whether you like it or not, Marillion nowadays will always lean towards the pop side of prog (and I enjoy most of those pop songs!).

The opener Between You and Me is a bit of a standard rock tune, but a nice start of the album (especially cool live, it's much better then). Quartz is just a very cool tune, and the first of the longer songs on the album. It has a nice laid back atmosphere to it, with a great guitar line from Rothers. Map of The World is a pure pop tune and just so damn catchy. Nothing particularly special, but it lingers on in your head (in mine anyway). Next is one of the best songs, When I Meet God. Great Hogarth lyric, great feel to it, just perfect. Next two songs - Fruit of the Wild Rose and Separated Out - are in my opinion a bit less (only a bit) than the rest. They're not bad, but just seem to drift by. Maybe it's because I just can't wait to get to This Is The 21st Century, which is brilliant! My absolute favorite Marillion song. It's just so good (can't really explain it, I just love it). The last song took me some time to get used to, but once you get into it it is very good. It has a very cool, bit surreal lyric. It is a bit weird, but very nice.

Overall, Anoraknophobia is an album that is quite consistent in feel, and that I can listen to from start to finish without getting bored. It is not Marillion at their most Prog, but they wrote some of their best stuff here!

Report this review (#224079)
Posted Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Anoraknophobia' - Marillion (7/10)

Finding my copy of Marillion's 'Anoraknophobia' in a used CD store, I picked it up with fair expectations. I had listened to a fair bit of Marillion already and had been meaning to get into their music, but I recognized none of the material on this album's tracklist. In other words, this was going to be a blind purchase of sorts. I figured it wasn't going to be their most mind-blowing release, even a bit mediocre, but for such a fair price, I wasn't going to pass up a prog album I could at least have a few decent listens with... I'm happy to say the album went above and beyond my expectations.

From the first listen, I was very impressed. Marillion's meld of progressive rock and accessible traits reminded me alot of my favourite band, Porcupine Tree.

While 'Anoraknophobia' doesn't work on a great album-centric level, there are some songs here that are absolutely amazing. The flow connecting the songs doesn't function as well as the band must have hoped, but two songs here in particular make 'Anoraknophobia' an incredibly worthy album. The two 'extended compositions;' 'When I Meet God' and 'This Is The 21st Century' get the curtains crashing.

Both of these songs are incredibly moving. Neither of the songs adopt any highly upbeat- uptempo moments throughout their duration, but both of the songs get very dramatically intense, despite the fact they are both slow.

Songs like 'Separated Out' (which if anything, is the cause for a nice belly laugh, plenty of humourous references in there, including an homage to none other than the Ramones!) and 'The Fruit Of The Wild Rose' are a bit forgettable, but nice listens nontheless, and something that certainly aren't a chore to listen to.

My one main gripe with the album is generally the flow, although that could have been remedied for the most part if the band had made 'This Is The 21st Century' the dramatic closer instead of inserting 'If My Heart Were A Ball, It Would Roll Uphill' as the final track, which shallows in comparison. 'This Is The 21st Century' would have been the PERFECT closing track, and would have left the listener on an ending note of emotional shock, and the actual closer does not have that effect at all.

Flaws aside however, I am so happy I found this album. This album has really set me up to delve into some of the band's certified masterpieces. An excellent album!

Report this review (#229625)
Posted Sunday, August 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Anoraknophobia is my favourite post-Fish Marillion album, bringing together everything that makes them so wonderful to me. Hogarth's intense vocals and rich melodies are thrust forward by the some of the most inspired and rocking prog they ever made.

Yes I know nobody agrees with me. It doesn't surprise me. There are plenty of reasons why. The first is of course that the world is still full of Fish-nostalgics for whom Hogarth can never do anything good. Second reason and more relevant for this album is that Marillion has adapted a sound here that deviates quite a bit from everything else they have made. Only the preceding had a similar approach. Also that one did not go well with the regular Marillion crowd. It's a sound that has a bit more bite then their usual smooth melancholy. That brings me to the next reason, not only is it different, the kind of external influences Marillion has introduced here come straight out of the blooming alternative rock scene from that era.

Particularly Radioheads experimental rock comes to mind but there are plenty of other influences. Like trip hop for example, gorgeous tracks like Quartz and 21st Century have a rhythmic backbone and atmospherics that have a very big Massive Attack flair, marillionized to good effect. Between You and Me is a catchy upbeat song that comes very close to the music of New Order's album from that same magical year 2001. (What? New Order? Eugh!). And of course there's Hogarth's voice that will always remind us of vocalists from bands like Talk Talk and The Blue Nile.

Map of the World is the only letdown here. That track is way too cheesy for me. But that's 5 minutes out of 63, that's still 58 perfect minutes. More then enough I would think. When I Meet God and The Fruit of the Wild Rose would be the most typical Marillion tracks here. Beautiful melancholy with strong melodies supported by tasty laid back musical craftsmanship of very high standard. Less is more indeed.

Seperated Out is the second up tempo rocker and clearly not Marillions specialty. Not bad but not so convincing as the opening song. But the very best is yet to come. If My Heart Were a Ball should be able to convince even the most ardent Hogarth bashers and Marillion-is-no-prog believers.

Anoraknophobia finds Marillion taking careful steps outside of their comfort zone. Something that didn't please the fans much and with the next releases they would play safe and return to their more popular sound, and ultimately become entirely uninteresting (except to the fans of course). 4.5 stars for the anorak, my favorite one along with Fugazi and Afraid of Sunlight.

Report this review (#236903)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Anoraknophobia marked the first album Marillion released after I started listening to them at the end of 2000. By this time I've only heard the '90s album Afraid of Sunlight and the '80s Seasons End from Hogarth-era so I was eager to hear how the band have progressed into the 21st century!

Unlike the previous trilogy of albums, that began with This Strange Engine, the band have decided to take a bit more time writing the material for what would become Anoraknophobia. I believe Pete Trewavas puts it nicely in this album's comments section on Marillion's official website where he writes that the major difference with this particular writing and recording session was that the band didn't have any left over material left from the previous sessions and therefore had to write the entire album from scratch. It also helped that over 12,500 fans pre-ordered Anoraknophobia before it even received an official release date which made it easier to be creative and open-minded during the whole process.

Hearing this album for the first time I basically had the same reaction to it as Peter Gabriel's album Up. Both of these releases sounded like old-timers trying to re-invent themselves. But while Up began to slowly but steadily grow on me, Anoraknophobia stagnated and hasn't really impressed me over these few years. This is definitely a pity but I blame Marillion's inability to keep the flow going all throughout their lengthy compositions. Most of these tracks follow a pretty simple formula starting with the verse/chorus sections that then evolve into a groove section. This whole arrangement is definitely an interesting premise but I feel that in order to really nail it the material has to be given enough time to develop a personality of its own.

If we come back to Peter Gabriel's example, he began crafting his album almost 10 years before releasing it and this effort really shows since the transitions between the different track sections feel natural and the compositions are so well crafted that they can't really be taken apart. Anoraknophobia, on the other hand, sounds like a carefully thought through band effort with a few drum loops added here and there. The results are good and sometimes even great but I still think that most of these performances would have worked better in trimmed down format.

It's nice to see Marillion giving their music a reboot which is definitely something a few more bands should consider doing but the material on Anoraknophobia don't result in anything above the good, but non-essential rating on my part.

**** star songs: Between You And Me (6:27) Map Of The World (5:05) When I Meet God (9:15) This Is The 21st Century (07:56) If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill (9:26)

*** star songs: Quartz (9:07) The Fruit Of The Wild Rose (6:57) Separated Out (6:13)

Report this review (#277562)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars An album that is one of the more controversial amongst the band's incredibly loyal fanbase, this was the first release of the 21st Century, and was, on the back of Marillion.Com, a further attempt to move the band away from the stereotypical neo prog label and also to break back into commercial success. At the time, Steve Hogarth, especially, was popping up in interviews everywhere to inform the population that Marillion were no longer a prog rock band, and should now be compared to bands such as Radiohead. Thankfully, he no longer does this, now that prog is no longer a dirty word, but it should be made clear that they are no Radiohead, either.

This album, with its playful title nod to the rather obsessive nature of fans such as myself, was recorded on a pre paid basis by said fans. This review, however, is of the single CD generally available at record shops.

What we have here is actually what the band have usually always been very good at. Attempting to progress beyond what they produced before and move on, whilst still appeasing fans like myself who demand exceptional musicianship and thoughtful music.

It starts off on a high, with Between You And Me, a rollicking opener which has, rightly, remained a live favourite ever since. Great vocals, great riffs, and great rhythm section. Six and a half minutes of fun, even better on the live LPs.

Quartz is a nine minute epic which, to my ears, is very disjointed. When it's good, particularly in the quieter "It's So Hard" passages, it's very good, but, otherwise, it doesn't seam together well at all and sounds a bit of a mess. It doesn't help that the production isn't particularly good, either. There are, however, some great guitar breaks from Rothery and, especially, strong funky bass lead by Trewavas, so it's not a total disaster.

My favourite track is the clear "let's get back into the charts, boys" commercial single, Map Of The World. It wasn't a smash hit, by any means, but it certainly is very typical of what this band, in whatever incarnation, do very well, marrying progressive rock with commercial instincts, and the story, of a girl dreaming of escaping a drab, poor, life to travel and see the world, is marvellous, and the band execute it extremely well indeed. This is one of the best tracks the band have performed and released, and also one of the most obscure in terms of recognition. Rothery's guitar solo in the mid section is one of his finest, and you are tapping your toes relentlessly throughout.

When I Meet God runs at over nine minutes long, and is far better and joined together than Quartz. It is the type of track they do best. Thoughtful, melodic, emotional, and musically very tight indeed. Hogarth is on supreme form, Kelly has rarely sounded better creating a lush synth backdrop, and Rothery is almost shouting in his understated support. Fans of great bass playing should also listen carefully to the melodic lead that Trewavas creates on this, whilst Mosley makes up the best rhythm section in the business. A delight from start to finish, this is worth two stars on its own.

The Fruit Of The Wild Rose was the band's attempt to reinvent themselves as a jazz improvisation quintet. It doesn't work and, thankfully, no further attempts were made. This track, I'm afraid, has throwaway screaming at you.

We get back on track with Separated Out. The musical theme returns to that of the opening track, and it races along at a fair old pace, with some tremendous riffs and a great vocal performance by Hogarth dedicating the track to all of us Marillion anoraks. Cheers! The film vocal interludes are, to me, a bit annoying, but overall this is great fun.

Two epic tracks close the album. This Is The 21st Century is the longest track on the album, at over eleven minutes long. Lyrically interesting as an attempt to prove to the masses that Marillion are a modern band, as, indeed, with the funding exercise, they most certainly were, proving themselves true trailblazers. There are some delicate, intricate, and experimental guitar pieces from Steven Rothery, and the entire piece is understated and almost trancy, certainly with the excellent instrumental passage closing the track, but still undeniably Marillion. A very enjoyable track which demonstrates the true progressive nature of the band, never afraid to try something different.

If My Heart Were A Ball, It Would Roll Uphill closes the album, and is similar in many ways to Quartz, in that it is decent, but disjointed, and really could have done with being four minutes shorter. The experimental riffs, and Ian Mosley's hammering drum performance (probably the heaviest in his Marillion career), make this a very interesting track, but, ultimately, not amongst their finest.

Marillion have, for very nearly 30 years now, been my favourite band, but a review must be honest in its critique and rating. This is a good album, but no more. Certainly, I have given four star reviews to far superior albums from the band. Completionists, like me, will, of course, have to own this album. For all others, it is decent enough, but not, in my opinion, particularly representative of the now extensive catalogue of work, and certainly not a good place to start with the Hogarth era if you are not familiar with it.

Three stars. Masterpieces were to follow!

Report this review (#339960)
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Marillion's Anoraknophobia was underwritten by more than 12,500 fans who pre-ordered a copy.

Anoraknophobia is very much in the same vein as the previous releases Radiation and, but whereas I found Radiation and rather disappointing, Anoraknophobia has the band approaching its best with excellent production and musicianship and ambitious song structures.

The album starts with classical style piano that leads into a nice rocker "Between You And Me" (6:28). This is followed by a longer song Quartz (9:07) which has a number of moods and time changes. "Map Of The World "(5:02) is a very pleasant if pop-ish song with a very good hook. "When I Meet God " (9:18) is another longer track. Excellent. "The Fruit Of The Wild Rose" (6:57) is another pop-ish song.

"Separated Out" (6:14) has some rather weird effects and music and is a real highlight. The track includes excerpts from the 1930's Tod Browning film Freaks. It includes the passage at the conclusion of the song "You, dirty, slimy...FREAKS!... FREAKS!... FREAKS!...Get out of here!". I am not sure if this is reference to the early days when "all the best freaks are here". Freaks was a b-side from the Misplaced Childhood sessions and available on "B-Sides Themselves".

The album concludes with another two longer tracks. "This Is The 21st Century" (11:07) is one of the Marillion's best. Generally slower paced but with some soaring guitar work. In earlier times this may have become a classic. The final track "If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill" (9:28) has some great bass-lines from the under-rated Trewavas.

Overall rating. 4.2. Stars. A worthwhile addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#358952)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Anoraknophobia was the last of what I like to call Marillion's transition out of the regular music business and into independence, which was also the transition from their initial Hogarth-era music to what they currently do and has evolved in the last decade.

This is a sequence of three albums, evidently starting with Radiation, an album plagued by lack of monetary resources, and what seems to be a complete and not so deliberate abandonment of the formula used in the records preceding it. lacked punch, save for the two last tracks, which were an outstanding high for such a different album.

And along came the new millenium, and thus came Anoraknophobia. The title is an obvious nod to Marillion's relative unpopularity, and the fact that it was declining due to more people forgetting that hey, this is a great band that put out a hit in 1985, and what do you know, they're still going.

Hogarth has always said they should have changed the name of the band. I disagree, but seeing how they had been doing in the late 90s, I cannot help but feel some empathy.

Anoraknophobia is a very strange album. In it, there are more than a few lengthy songs, exceeding eight minutes, but nothing proggy by definition. Anoraknophobia marked Marillion's definitive nod to their label, progressing out of the genre they had been so gracefully put into.


Anoraknophobia may lack the classic medieval tone of Fish-era Marillion, or the extended passages, or ian Mosley's punching drum lines, or strange time signature. It may lack a story that is told throughout the album, or the motifs made great by Misplaced Childhood and Brave. It may lack epic wonders like This Strange Engine, The Rakes Progress and even Interior Lulu. But this is by no means a non-progressive record.

Marillion may have changed their music a lot, but their compositional traits, the kind of intervals they use in melodies, their use of chords, their use of modulation, their dynamics, and all the underlying music-writing minutiae that is blown apart by the fact that the songs are in 4/4 is still adamantly consistent with their previous work. They have not changed the way the way music, they have just taken it to a different place. It's sort of like when Genesis started doing albums like Invisible Touch, after coming out with beauties like Selling England by the Pound.

The force of songs like Quartz, If My Heart were a Ball, The Fruit of the Wild Rose and even This is the 21st Century is undeniable. And as much as prog fans would like to see Marillion do at least a passage in 7/8, I will recurr to none other than Steven Wilson to describe the beauty of these songs

"I don't like songs that are written in some bizarre time signature like, say, 23/8, just for the sake of it. That may be technically impressive, but progressive rock is more than odd-time stignatures"

Marillion have veered into a whole new direction, evolved into their current workflow, and created an album, that even if it is the one with the least percentage of songs I like (I like 3, 4 in a good day), even if it is surpassed in that by what Marillion themselves call their weakest studio effort (Radiation), is perfectly valid, and utterly worthy of praise. Anoraknophobia is the work of Marillion's applaudable effort to reinvent themselves without alienating people (although this album and the ones before it kind of did).

Give it a listen, and it will surprise you. Mark Kelly even put a sample from Chelsea Monday into If My Heart were a Ball, and honestly, the three songs I do like, are brilliant.

I'm giving it three stars because I think that the lyrical themes weren't that appealing, and because I really don't like some of the songs (which doesn't mean I don't admire them and acknowledge the skill with which they were written). Also because I think they experimented too much and became soft at it. The songs and their lyrics lack the punch and slight controversy shown in Brave, Afraid of Sunlight, and Seasons End. Which for me, is a Hogarth must.

Anoraknophobia is completely decent, but ultimately flawed, and my least favourite Marillion record. But the masterpieces that followed it give it more sense and chronological logic. And thus, I am happy it exists.

Report this review (#557676)
Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars the turning point...

at least in terms of sales. In other terms "Anoraknophobia" was a consequent further progression with, once more, impressive results, and though there's - imo - very proggy stuff on it ( especially "Quartz", but also the drum'n'bass-driven "This is the 21st Century" ), its reputation amongst prog-lovers is not the one of it being a masterpiece, it's regarded more as, say, "one sign of recovery before they finally gave us Marbles" - did I get it right ?

Well, to me, it's a very good Marillion-Album, not quite as fresh and astounding as its predecessor, but still full of energy and lots of good songs that, in this case and depending on your state of mind, may have become a little to long in their final execution at times ( "When I meet god", "21st Century" ) but then again - I like them all entirely ( "If my heart were a ball", to add this, is less of a song to my ears but a very enjoyable showcase of the band jamming together, and "Seperated out", though far from being a miss, fails to impress me as much as it does in its live-form ! ). It's sounding a bit more polished than "Radiation" and ".com", too ( well, with Dave Meegan rejoining the camp once more you could expect it to sound increasingly perfect, that man's a perfectionist, but as always when he was involved he proved to be a very good partner for the band cause: ) - but full of life and honest emotion, and in some ways I still prefer it over "Marbles" ( and like to praise it as a far more convincing and better effort than AOS ! ).

Its powerful, groovy beginning with "Between you and me" ( more than a bit of U2-influence here concerning the guitars ) and the uplifting pop-qualities of "Map of the World" give this album a strong commercial appeal ( yet none of the two was to be a hit-single ), but in its entirety it presents us a lot of big audible paintings that reveal the great musicianship and high artistic approach of those 5 guys to perfect extension once more. Lots of lovely details, carefully interwoven, manage to hover these songs into impressionistic pictures of soulscapes and desire... very good lyrics, this time without John Helmer's input, but Hogie had help from Nick Van Eede ( Cutting Crew ) in order to complete "Map of the World".

Yes, paintings they are, these 8 songs of searching and redeem, like all of the best ones Marillion have brought us. Lots of colors once more, but compared to "" and in spite of a whole lot of inspiration and different ideas coming together here, the substantial color remains one and the same as a basic sign of coherence. This is serving the "Marillion-tradition" of giving every album a different mood and identity, making it a special work of art. This one should have served them as a very good "identity card" for Marillion at the start of the new millenium I think, and though it still did not get the recognition it deserved, it became a model of how a band can survive in the age of internet - if only they have a strong fan-base ( you all know that story so I hope I don't have to repeat it... good to see a band achieving real independence and absolute artistic freedom with the aid of their ever-supportive fans, and I believe that all of them and more got rewarded greatly ).

My personal faves, after more than a decade of listening pleasure with this album, turned out to be "Quartz" and, you may not believe it, the so much neglected "Fruit of the wild rose", a song that grew on me like "Radiation" has grown until I was helpless and unable to resist it. It's got such a fabulous groove ! And as a whole, it simply amazes me from start to finish... with the effect of blowing my brains out when that part drops in after the second refrain ( right after the words "as England faces the winter" ! ) ... you know... THAT part on which Mark Kelly ( in particular ) gives us a bust of "The Who"... wow ! Isn't that what prog-lovers are up for ? I don't understand why this song doesn't get more mentions as a true highlight, yep, even gets some mentions as a lesser one... have those who say that - and those who think of "Quartz", which is no less than the real "progger" here, as boring - got a different album than me ? I'd rather understand when anyone thinks of "Map of the World" as being "too much pop" or "Between you and me" as "too much of U2"... or has difficulties with the drum-loops that take "This is the 21st Century" into its suspense ( I do not have. I remain open-minded. I think it's prog ).

"Anoraknophobia", to say this as a final conclusion, has lots of beautiful melodies on it. But you need to listen in order to hear ( discover ) them. It's an album that gives me full satisfaction, so let it be highly recommended to you by a confessing Marillion-Anorak. 4 Stars at least !

Report this review (#610456)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars It took a long while for Radiation and to grow on me, and they hadn't quite managed it by the time Anoraknophobia came out. (Eventually, I would see their better aspects, though on reflection I don't think the few rough gems buried in those albums quite measure up to Marillion's best work and perhaps only look good compared to the rather dated attempt to take a poppier direction that the band were indulging in at the time.)

Since it had come out after two albums I wasn't so keen on, I wasn't feeling too good about Marillion's current musical direction when Anoraknophobia hit the streets. It didn't help that I was also turned off by the infamous press release that the band released at the time, challenging the music press to try and review the album without referring to Fish or neo-prog or any of the phrases usually used to discuss the band's earlier career. I thought the release was incredibly negative and pointlessly confrontational; it said a lot about who the band *weren't* without offering much of a vision of who they *were*, and antagonising the critics seemed at best a waste of energy, at worst a challenge to inspire them to "do their worst".

So, on the whole when I first listened to the album I was in entirely the wrong mood to appreciate it, and like Radiation and I found it disappointing at first. But like those two albums, it grew on me somewhat over time, though having come through a phase where I was quite excited by it I find its charms don't sustain themselves quite to the extent that either classic Fish-era Marillion or the best releases of the Steve Hogarth era do.

In many ways, it's like the third in a series which includes those other two albums, in which Marillion explore ways to apply their progressive songwriting skills and distinctive atmospheres to the proggier end of indie rock - much like Porcupine Tree (and to a lesser extent, Fish himself) were dabbling in at the time, in fact. I also think it's the best album in that trilogy, for what that's worth.

Firstly, it has the major advantage that it enjoys far better production standards and a much better sound than either of the two earlier installments in this trilogy - the now-famous crowd funding method of using pre-orders to acquire the recording budget really did the band proud, it seems. Add to that the fact that the shorter, poppier tunes this time around are just plain better, with a richer and lusher sound and often a few more progressive twists here and there than the simpler and more stripped-down songs on Radiation or That said, whilst they sound better, they soon wear on you and don't stand up especially well to repeated listens, and some of the band's experiments fall flat. The bit which trips up most people on the album is H's daft little not-really-a-rap on Quartz, which sounds less like a musical experiment and more like a sulky, petulant little rant. It's just terrible, entirely wrong for H's vocal limitations, and is easily the most toe-curlingly embarrassing thing Marillion have ever done; to be fair, much of the rest of the album (and indeed the rest of the song) is better than that, but I couldn't really blame anyone who just stopped listening at that point because it's just jaw-droppingly goofy.

That said, for the most part the band succeed in finally achieving the sound they'd been groping for on Radiation and At the same time, their past isn't as far away as you might think. As well as a sample from Todd Browning's Freaks (which seems to be a reference to the Fish-era B-side), at one point on the album H starts singing lyrics from Chelsea Monday! You would think that if the band were that keen to distance themselves from the Fish era they wouldn't be making direct references to songs from Script For a Jester's Tear. I suppose this illustrates the gap between the band's public statements and what they were actually doing musically: just as they vociferously denied being a prog band, at the same time they were applying the lessons of the "new prog" movement as kickstarted by Radiohead and others, giving a psychedelic pop twist to it, and crafting it into prog-tinged melodic rock trips which are certainly progressive even if they aren't neo-prog.

However, all that is water under the bridge now. Marbles would see the band leaning back towards prog, the start of a reconciliation with the term which would culminate in their 2010 appearance at High Voltage - proudly taking to the prog stage and proving more than willing to describe themselves as a prog band again. So in listening to Anoraknophobia now, I can leave all the cross words behind and let the music speak for itself. What it says is "I'm a work in progress that needed to happen" - Marillion needed to go exploring here and on Radiation and to produce the treasure they'd give us on Marbles. I'm glad they did it, but I'm less and less keen to listen to the sub-par results of that experimentation when there's truly polished albums preceding and succeeding this trilogy.

Report this review (#643832)
Posted Friday, March 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think ANORAKNOPHOBIA is the last of a series of albums, from radiation, where Marillion had a more commercial sound. For me, it is the least progressive album even though it contains really good songs such as Between You and Me, When I Meet God, This is the 21st Century. There are other songs that I would say they are average songs, good but not the best things they have composed. Yet, any Marillion album is worth listening because all of them no matter how progressive or commercial they are, are really nice albums and excellent additions to any collection. One of the best bands ever. One of my top favorite.
Report this review (#1010436)
Posted Saturday, August 3, 2013 | Review Permalink

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