MARILLION EMBRACE THE FEAR FACTOR WITH NEW ALBUM
Marillion: 'Fuck Everyone And Run (F.E.A.R.)'
Release Date: 23rd September 2016 (earMusic)
Marillion have always been pretty good at starting trends, being one of the early pioneers of harnessing the internet and crowdfunding to break away from big label dominance, or putting on fan convention weekends and this time, with eighteenth studio album, 'Fuck Everyone And Run (F.E.A.R)' they've tapped straight into the zeitgeist.
At first look, a slight groan may be evident as the listing states that this album has only five, very long tracks, Does this mean that along with the relatively recent full-on embrace by the prog community, this is going to be a stereotypical pretentious arty noodle-fest?
Thankfully not, although to be fair it does drag in a few places. The bulk of it is exactly what we have come to expect from Marillion however - emotion-filled vocals, intelligent lyrics, swells, hooks that grasp on to parts of your soul, Steve Rothery guitar solos that build and sing, programmed sounds, theatrical elements without being too camp... and this is extremely pleasing.
It's definitely not a full-on concept album, but a theme certainly runs through it. And what of the aforementioned zeitgeist? Capitalism, refugees, abuse of power, change and conflict, the complete disillusionment and destruction of trust in authority figures – and although apparently the song was written way before the word Brexit entered the common consciousness, 'The Leavers' has a section that's called 'The Remainers'.
The band are no stranger to these big themes, and there's also some more mundane aspects too, like the concern with aging in 'White Paper'. 'Fuck...' overall emerges blinking into the sunlight shouting to wake up and change things. 'Living In Fear' is the most accessible track on the album and the title is the opposite of the meaning - this song puts out real courageous alternatives declaring them to be "a show of strength".
The album is bookended by two epics, 'El Dorado' and 'The New Kings', both addressing Englishness and everything being turned on its head in some form – and both tracks have a style and polish that belies the bleakness; a fascinating contrast.
So it's no casual listen, but heavy going it ain't. You could certainly have it on in the background and not be too disturbed, however this seems a waste when a focused listening brings so much more reward. It's beautifully recorded, some real magic moments here summoning infinite space or dark interludes. The music follows the mood of the lyrics, but never quite strays into Pans People-type literal exaggeration.
Steve Hogarth is outstanding on vocals here, whether crooning intimately or aggressively sneering and all stops in between. There are no throwaway parts or filler here as far as the vocals are concerned. The subject matter is preaching to the choir as far as Marillion fans are concerned, but who cares when it is as beautiful as this?
'Fuck...' doesn't give us anything new or innovative, but fortunately the quality is high, and in future will probably be up there with 'Marbles' and 'Brave' as essential listening. It lacks the immediate impact of their live performances, but is a real grower and played live these songs are going to sound stunning.
If you weren't a fan before it's not going to convert you. If you were you are going to love Marillion as deeply as ever, if not more so.
Marillion Tour Dates:
Friday 21st October 2016: The Regency Ballroom San Francisco, CA, USA
Saturday 22nd October 2016: Saban Theater Beverly Hills Beverly Hills, CA, USA
Tuesday 25th October 2016: Paramount Theatre Denver, CO, USA
Thursday 27th October 2016: Vic Theatre Chicago, IL, USA
Friday 28th October 2016: Vic Theatre Chicago, IL, USA
Saturday 29th October 2016: Hard Rock Live Northfield, OH, USA
Monday 31st October 2016: Danforth Music Hall Toronto, ON, Canada
Tuesday 1st November 2016: Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre Montreal, QC, Canada
Wednesday 2nd November 2016: L'Impérial Bell Québec, QC, Canada
Friday 4th November 2016: Royale Boston Boston, MA, USA
Saturday 5th November 2016: 9:30 Club Washington, DC, USA
Sunday 6th November 2016: Keswick Theatre Philadelphia, PA, USA
Tuesday 8th November 2016: Playstation Theater New York, NY, USA
Sunday 27th November 2016: Friars Waterside Aylesbury, UK - Tickets Here
Monday 28th November 2016: Manchester Academy Manchester, UK - Tickets Here
Wednesday 30th November 2016: O2 ABC Glasgow Glasgow, UK - Tickets Here
Thursday 1st December 2016: Leeds Beckett Student Union Leeds, UK - Tickets Here
Saturday 3rd December 2016: The Tramshed Cardiff, UK - Tickets Here
Sunday 4th December 2016: O2 Forum London, UK - Tickets Here
Tuesday 6th December 2016: MusicCentrum Utrecht, The Netherlands
Wednesday 7th December 2016: MusicCentrum Utrecht, The Netherlands
Friday 9th December 2016: L’Aéronef Lille, France
Saturday 10th December 2016: Elysée Montmartre Paris, France
Sunday 11th December 2016: Radiant-Bellevue Lyon, France