Sunday, April 29, 2007

Marillion: Somewhere Else

I may have to rethink who I list as being my favourite bands. For the past 10-15 years I would almost certainly have listed Marillion in the top five (see here, for example), and it is the case that they have produced some of my favourite albums. But, on reflection, I can't say that they consistently produce great albums.

The public perception of Marillion is the band, fronted by Fish, that formed in the late 70s and split in 1987. Fish was replaced by Steve 'h' Hogarth and the band have subsequently produced ten albums of varying quality.

Three of those albums, namely Brave (1994), This Strange Engine (1997) and Anoraknophobia (2001) have been excellent. Two of those albums, namely Holidays in Eden (1991) and Radiation (1998) have been merely OK. The rest have been between these two extremes.

The new album, Somewhere Else, is adequate. Nothing more. Sadly, it doesn't even have those moments of greatness that some of the earlier poorer albums have shown. As I said, this is the 10th album by this version of Marillion, and I'm beginning to think that they have now used all their musical ideas. This album seems very much like an album made out of the ideas that they have already used on previous albums.

If you haven't heard their back catalogue, this might be a great album for you, but most of the sounds and ideas on this album have been used before, generally in better songs.
  1. The Other Half
    The last Marillion album, Marbles, started with a sprawling song that I have never managed to get into. It just doesn't work for me. At first listen, this track seemed to be much the same. But after a few listens I got it. Its quite good.
  2. See It Like A Baby
    The first single. I thought it was adequate the first time I heard it, but it is a much better song in the album context than as a stand alone song. (Oddly enough, the first single from Marbles, You're Gone, was much like this - adequate on its own, but much better in context.) This song has a much stronger verse than the chorus, which is over repetitive.
  3. Thankyou Whoever You Are
    A bit whiny, but a reasonable song. Still nothing fab on the album yet...
  4. Most Toys
    Possibly the next single. Please no. This song has no tune on the verse and a highly irritating chorus.
  5. Somewhere Else
    This is much more like it. A good song, but quite reminiscent of previous Marillion songs.
  6. A Voice From The Past
    [review to follow, I can't remember anything about this song at the moment]
  7. No Such Thing
    Take a minor variation on the riff from 'fruit of the wild rose' (from Anoraknophobia) and wrap it up in a dull and really repetitive song, and this is what you get.
  8. The Wound
    The best song on the album.
  9. The Last Century For Man
    [review to follow, I can't remember anything about this song at the moment]
  10. Faith
    A b-side from one of the singles off Marbles. Sounds like a b-side.
So, all in all, fairly disappointing. Nothing outstanding, lots of filler material. No new ideas. But I'm going to see them live in concert in a few weeks time. So maybe I'll 'get' it then.

As Marillion are stereotypically associated with sad geeky types, I thought I'd prove the point by closing this post with a graph of my opinions of the quality of the last ten Marillion albums:

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