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3.11 | 470 ratings

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4 stars Marillion, to me, are one of the few current era prog ensembles that still generates a type of magical sound due to the band's undeniable chemistry., from 1999, like it's predecessor Radiation (from 1998), is a sorely unappreciated album that some how has been thrown into the scrap pile of of "band growing pains." This is quite odd to me, as if growth and stretching out were somehow incompatible with prog. But what type of growth? And exactly in which direction, please?

Well, that's the rub. Marillion got very influenced by late 20th century alternate rockers like Radiohead. Ah, you see? And alternate universes are always somehow unwanted, especially in rock music. But Marillion don't sound anything like Radiohead or other alt rockers from that era. They sound like, well, Marillion.

And that's chiefly because the band, after the epic album Brave, from 1994, has focused it's sound around Steve Hogarth's soul searing confessions and battles to face up to pain, disappointment and overcoming mistakes. Marillion has the magic to turn an emotional journey into something quite visceral. When Hogarth sings of pain, the band play the pain (on Go!), or nightmares and regret (Interior Lulu) or even brief moments of joy and celebrations of life (the magnificent Tumble Down The Years). Oddly, despite the album's title and cover art, there's little mention of the Internet by Hogarth, except to ask if the we're really "connected" to one another through the marvel of social media.

But the trick with is that you have to be receptive to it. Beneath some of album's catchy songs (like Deserve with it's faux Motown horn climax and near continuous shaking tambourines and hand claps) are some of Hogarth's most disturbing and almost preachy lyrics, since the album Brave. However, there are no continuous spiraling epics with climatic guitar solos like on Brave's The Great Escape. And that's the real beauty of You can focus on either the music, which is at times upbeat or nightmarish (Interior Lulu is a moody slow paced song that jet propels instantly into some kind of insane ELP-like Karnevil 9 overdrive in the song's mid section) or you can be brave and just focus on the lyrics. And if you do the later, the music will come across as something very different than alternate rock.

It will, by God, be exactly what it was intended to be. Shear magical Marillion. So enjoy, or learn, or be moved by it. You very brave soul.

And, for the record,, beautifully recorded, features one of the finest sound mixes that I've heard in quite a long time. Something sorely lacking in Radiation, which helped to drive down the listening value of that album for many people, myself included.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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