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Marillion - F E A R (F*** Everyone And Run) CD (album) cover





3.74 | 453 ratings

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5 stars For a while here it felt like this was where Marillion and I parted company.

Now, don't get me wrong. I appreciate that more laid-back and meditative sounds have always been part of the band's sound, and have been responsible for some of their grandest moments (as on parts of This Strange Engine or Marbles, for instance). Likewise, I also get that right from the debut album the group have never been afraid to do politics or social commentary,

At the same time, when FEAR was originally released, I was already too annoyed by the horrendous state of British politics for a song called "The Leavers" which inverted the Leaver/Remainer dichotomy of the Brexit referendum, to use "Leaver" to refer to adventurous folk willing to be open to new experiences; perhaps that's part of why I flinched back from this on its original release.

However, the passage of time allowed me to get a little distance from the moment, and now I see a new beauty in this unflinchingly insightful yet also very beautiful album prophetically outlining just what the British governing classes were about to do to the rest of us, set against a musical backing which is perhaps the furthest Marillion have ever travelled into pastoralism.

It's not outright folk-Marillion by a long shot - if anything, there's more jazz than folk in here - but there's a gentleness to the music which I quite appreciate. Nobody ever accused Hogarth-era Marillion of being a hard rock unit, after all - so why try for those credentials instead of doing what comes naturally?

It's simultaneously a bit of a departure from their usual approach and a further refinement of it; the album is dominated by no less than three multi-part epics (El Dorado, The Leavers, and The New Kings), and whilst they have taken a broadly similar approach before - think of Brave, and its tentpole compositions of The Great Escape and Goodbye To All That - it's still perhaps the most unabashedly prog-oriented structure of an Marillion album since Misplaced Childhood.

Whereas, however, Misplaced Childhood was an expression of youthful exuberance - a defiant prog group being proggy simply because it could - there's a maturity to F.E.A.R. which has been creeping up on Marillion for a long time. It's not an album which feels any obligation to rock out at any point (remember, even Brave had Paper Lies), and whilst rock albums which take themselves seriously risk accusations of pretentiousness, they actually are dealing with serious enough subject matter here in a mature enough manner to merit the serious tone of the album.

Despite the fact that the album isn't fun (in the sense that it is not at all frivolous), it's far from without joy or hope - the reasoned hope of someone who's realised that human nature is not as vile and sordid as the dark forces in this world would have us believe, even as they try to pit us against each other. That's a shockingly nuanced sentiment for a piece of music to get across, and certainly much more nuanced than anyone would have expected the band that gave us Grendel in 1982 to offer up, and yet here we are, with Marillion perhaps kindling a late-career renaissance on the back of this excellent album.

Warthur | 5/5 |


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