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3.11 | 478 ratings

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3 stars comes across, to me at least, not so much as "Radiation done right" - there's still issues with it that are a lot like the issues with Radiation itself - but at the very least, "Radiation done better". Not that I'm 100% against Radiation myself - Cathedral Wall and A Few Words For the Dead from it are pretty good tracks - but it's still one of Marillion's more inessential releases. Here, the band take more or less the same approach to the compositions and the sequencing of the album, frontloading it with more poppy material before rounding things off with two more experimental tracks (which may not seem much, but they amount to about 25 minutes - nearly half the running time of the album - between them).

The difference is that the album has a better production job on it and a better mix - thanks, in part, to Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, who contributes mixes to five of the nine songs - and the songwriting is just plain better. The shorter songs on the album might be poppy, but mainstream they ain't - we're talking melodic psychedelic indie-rock workouts which are far more appealing and interesting than the earlier stabs at the style on Radiation. The happy and upbeat numbers are bursting with an infectious energy, the downtempo numbers are wonderfully atmospheric, and all of them have more progressive touches than the more simplistic numbers on Radiation.

Meanwhile, the album presents not one but two epics which really push the bounds of Marillion's work. Interior Lulu, a bit of a missing link between Brave and Marbles, sounds like a bona fide classic in this running order, though I suspect this is an artifact of it sounding like such a shift compared to what comes before it and taken by itself it's interesting but no five-star track. House is a laid back mood piece influenced to an equal extent by jazz and by house music. Between them, the two tracks show Marillion simultaneously demonstrating their continued mastery of their more progressive side whilst at the same time taking them further out of their comfort zone than ever before.

On the whole, I'd say is even more sorely underrated than Radiation, especially since in Interior Lulu, the band present one of the best and most genuinely progressive songs they have ever produced. That said, the poppier efforts here have dated poorly and I suspect if you get this Interior Lulu and maybe House will be the only tracks that get heavy rotation.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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