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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover





4.25 | 2093 ratings

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3 stars A long time favourite of my father's, it was inevitable that I one day should come to Marillion. The celebrated prog revitalisers of the '80s - celebrated, idolised, loathed and neglected all at the same time by the prog community - are at least an important band in the history of music.

Misplaced Childhood, the bands third album, is by many considered the pinnacle of their career and it is with caution and mixed feelings I approach the album. It isn't the first time I've delved into the dark, bitter world of Fish, and having said that, this would possibly not be the first time I'd leave it after a few spins. I've always felt that this was nothing more than pretentious (it's always a risk to use that word as a prog rock fan...) sophisto-rock with a distinct '80s flair. Neither have Fish's vocals ever been a favourite of mine. And while I stay true to those statements, this time something happened. It clicked, for lack of better words. Suddenly I felt a strong will to listen to Marillion those times you know you want hear something, but can't put your finger on what.

Because behind the thick pretentious layer (the neutral meaning of the word...) is an album full of quality and emotion. And if put in context, the glam-hair-metal heydays of the decade, this is nothing short of a masterpiece. However, on a personal note and speaking as one who didn't live through those days, I don't find it that good.

The production smells like the 80's. I've used the Rush albums from the same era as comparison before. Cold, hollow, electronic, restrained and disciplined are words that come to mind. But just as the '70s had its characteristic sound - but with a little more variation - I've never been put off by this. It's great with records that reflect their time, and an interesting cultural phenomenon. Sharp drums, somewhat in the back and 80's keys are other trademark attributes, and Misplaced Childhood is not an exception. Steve Rothery's guitar is highly emotional and crisp and clean, and the true pleasure of the album. Enchanting, hypnotizing from time to time. A fact that fits well with the dark concept. Sometimes he's very close to '80s-Alex Lifeson, but I'll leave out who influenced who, or if there is an influence at all. Could be either way, as far as I'm concerned. Ian Mosley is an expressive and powerful drummer and together with Pete Trewavas he forms a stable rythm section. But above all, this is an album very heavy on vocals and lyrics. Sometimes too heavy, as the other musicians almost drown behind Fish. I'd like more focus on the rest of the talent in the band, as some of the band's finesse is lost by that fact alone.

Like all Neo-prog I've heard to this date, atmosphere is the key to success. It's all very theatrical with the expressive vocals of Fish, texture keys and narrated - and moody instrumental - parts. Misplaced Childhood is in many ways a perfect marriage between commercial catchy melodies and progressive complexity and atmospheres. And while this gives an edge in some camps, it's just as much a drawback in others. I'll settle for a place somewhere in between and complain about cohesion instead, and the shorter tracks, while still good, feels slightly out of place.

With all things considered, I'll award this my most glowing three stars ever. And I've most certainly built up hunger for more Marillion. Very interesting.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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