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Marillion - Happiness Is The Road CD (album) cover





3.35 | 641 ratings

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1 stars Long and boring as a Sunday without football

It's not a secret for those who know me that I don't like the approach MARILLION took after "Fish" left, to be honest I don't like Hogarth's voice or style and believe the band moved from Progressive Rock to radio friendly mainstream, which would not be wrong if it sounded good, but honestly it's not my cup of tea.

But have read such good comments about "Happiness is the Road", that I decided to take the risk, and this is my opinion.

"Dreamy Street" begins with a nice piano intro, but as soon as "Hogarth's voice appears, I know most surely nothing has changed, the song goes repetitive and static the long 1:59 minutes it lasts.

"This Train is my Life" is a bit more interesting, not that we're in front of a Prog masterpiece, but at least there's energy and variations, but despite this fact it's not a great track either, some sort of Hard Rock with touches of POP and Hogarth forcing his voice far beyond his limited range. Acceptable song and a good change after a weak start.

"Essence" intro is absolutely predictable, no meaningful changes from the opener. But the music goes "in crescendo" announcing something really impressive that never comes, well, at least some expectation was created. Only at the end some strength is added, but not enough to save this track.

"Wrapped Up in Time" opens with an intro that resembles a music box, after some seconds it changes into a dreamy atmospheric sound created by the keyboards and Hogarth's voice hits us as hard as reality. Again nothing particularly impressive, maybe it's OK for people not familiar with MARILLION'S Prog background, because it's better than 99.99% of today's mainstream, but not acceptable for Progheads who expect some of the greatness they showed during Fish's era.

"Liquidity" makes me wonder how this guys manage to make all songs sound so incredibly similar, one thing is the style and particular sound of a band, but this MARILLION despite some very good piano moments, doesn't offer us anything really original after having listened the first song.

"Nothing Fills the Hole" makes me want to applaud, not because it's a masterpiece but at least is a healthy attempt of sounding different, great strength, excellent guitar work and more than acceptable drumming, but overall, the vocals sound fresher than before in this album, at least until the last third of the song when Hogarth adds again that particular and boring sound.

"Woke Up".That's what happened, the sound of a strong guitar made me wake up, because I was almost sleeping by this point. Hey even Hogarth voice sounds more interesting he uses some sort of semi-yodel that adds a bit of dramatics and reminds me a bit of Peter Gabriel, the keyboards create a proggy atmosphere, up to this point the best track by far.

What I can't understand is how if these guys have the obvious talent to create such a good track, why do they insist with the boring balladesque stuff?

"Trap the Spark" makes me remember the early Hoggarth's era, when they sounded much more varied and interesting, the piano is quite strong, but again they fall in the easiness of the pleasant but not transcendental ballad, started strong but the end is predictable, not even the nice mellotron saves the song.

"A State of Mind" reminds me of three men era GENESIS, just easy listening POP stuff, a couple of nice vocal moments but nothing to make this track worth of listening twice.

What? An epic? Yes it's true; it's the time for the title song and the first of the two long tracks of the album.

Sadly until the 3:42 minute, there's nothing really different from the previous tracks, but at this moment they start a light jazzy section, nothing impressive but at this moment, any change is for better. The closing section is very strong, something I can't say about most of the album, another high point.

"Half Empty Jam" starts with a rhythmic section that could announce something different, so I sit and wait..and wait...and wait.yes they start to increase the speed and the strength, but the sound is the same, so with a bit more of expectation I wait again and yes, MARILLION hits us with everything they have and surely they rock when they want, the drumming is outstanding, and the interplay between drums and guitar is outstanding...Please, somebody who knows the band please tell them that they are good musicians, just a bit of energy and they can make it.

"Thunder Fly" seems like another good song, as in the previous song they are entering into the Alternative territory and they are doing it well, great, a couple of changes, nice keyboards, musical explosions with a Beatles touch, yes they are better than I thought when they want to.

"The Man From the Planet Marzipan" starts promising but is a mirage, soon they fall into that sort of musical numbness, as if it was too much effort to give all they can, even though there is an increase of volume and a nice orchestration, the song never leaves the ground, being that is almost the same 4 or 5 chords repeated constantly. But around the middle there is a real change that makes the song much better until the end with lush keyboards and solid rhythm section.

"Asylum Satellite #1" is a real surprise, at last a full Prog song, starts soft and gentle but with a very interesting structure, even when the vocal section turns a bit less impressive, they manage to keep the interest of the listener, after a short soft break, they attack again with an almost Psyche guitar "a la" Hendrix and an excellent supporting job of the bass, it's a shame that as they approach to the end the song starts to fade until it vanishes, despite this, a very good song.

"Older than Me" is a return to the first songs, slow, boring and predictable, not much to say about it, thanks heaven it's short and leads to "Throw Me Up", which despite not being too strong, at least has an interesting structure and development with some strong musical explosions.

"Half the World" starts promising again with a nice guitar work, soon the vocal and keys join making a very nice interplay and then the volume rises towards a very nice passage where the band gives one of their best team works in the album, great track.

"Whatever Is Wrong with You" falls again in that sort of numbness I spoke about before, despite it has some dramatic and energetic sections, always returns to the beginning choir making it boring. Only at the end they manage to reach the climax.

"Especially True" starts especially boring and sadly doesn't change too much despite the efforts of Steve Rothery who makes some interesting guitar flashes.

The album is closed with "Real Tears for Sale", a proggy song with some folksy flute or dulcimer passages and interesting keyboard work by Mark Kelly, but nothing more to rescue, good but not great as most of the album.

It's clear for me that Disk 2 is far stronger than CD 1, but the question remains, is this enough to give a less than mediocre album more than 1 lonely star? At least for me the answer is no, "Happiness is the Road" doesn't make enough merits to be saved from oblivion, so I will remain with my original rating of 1 star.

I just hope the band starts to focus in the best and more imaginative material and cease to insist with the boring ballads. I'm sure they had enough material for a very good single CD, but sometimes the bands think that more is better, well, I believe not in this case.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 1/5 |


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