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3.11 | 470 ratings

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3 stars The last of my Marillion set of reviews for studio albums, until the new one is released of course! This one followed on the back of the excellent, but criminally under performing, Radiation, and was a distinct, and deliberate, move by the band to once and for all get rid of the neo prog rock tag and push themselves into a fusion of progressive rock and more indie rock orientated music. This trend was continued on the successor, Anoracknophobia, and had mixed results.

The first track, A Legacy, is a bit of a dirge, and rather forgettable, whilst Deserve takes us straight into the type of Radiohead inspired rock music that Hogarth, especially, was keen to emulate and take the band forward to.

It isn't until Go that the band finally find their feet with the approach, and what a special track it is. Progressive at its core, but infused with post indie sensibilities, the closing vocal segment is amongst the best that Hogarth has ever recorded with the band.

Rich is a social commentary song, but also a very pop orientated one, and one got the feeling listening to this at the time that the band had slightly lost its way when writing and recording more commercially orientated tracks. It actually stands up far better in retrospect, and the huge bass lead by Trewavas amongst the shrill vocal and chaotic Rothery riff do gel together nicely. Not their best pop song by any stretch of the imagination, but still interesting nonetheless.

Enlightened is a natural follow on from much of what featured on Radiation, a very mellow track, almost meandering in its clear thoughtfulness, featuring some lovely singing from Hogarth and a very dark mid section solo by Steven Rothery.

Built in Bastard Radar has the finest title ever written for any rock song in my opinion, and sees the band almost branch out into a grunge garage band. It's as far removed from Seasons End or Brave, let alone Misplaced Childhood, as it is possible to get. Fun, but as near to throwaway as the band got.

The mood, and quality, changes utterly with Tumble Down The Years, which remains, to these ears, one of the finest songs the band recorded and also performed live. A beautiful melody, wonderfully performed by the collective, is set against a cheery Hogarth vocal. This track undoubtedly lifts the mood of the album, and it was rather needed, actually.

The album closes with two epics, Interior Lulu and House. The former has remained a favourite of fans for many years now. It features Mark Kelly at his very best, has some incredible signature changes, moments of utter frenetic madness, and also mellow lushness. This is a great track, but I am one of those few who prefers the acoustic reworking on Less Is More, because I believe the stripped down version allowed the dark beauty of the original to shine through more by taking away the frenetic moments. This, though, is still very good, dark, and foreboding.

House was designed to be performed and listened to in an extremely smoky jazz club, and, indeed, invokes memories of that type of establishment. Mellow and oozing class, this is a particularly overlooked track by the band.

As I have said before, this band do not do bad albums. Even their more controversial amongst the fan base (and this one definitely qualifies as such) still deliver exceptional music, and it is clear looking back that with Radiation, this album, and it's successor, Marillion were searching for a formula that would fuse the best of the new with the traditional. They achieved this, in spades, with Marbles.

Three stars for this. A good album, and one which I would recommend to those who do not have it.

lazland | 3/5 |


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