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Marillion

Anoraknophobia

Review by Steve Alspach

Marillion continues its path towards solid, rock-based music with Anoraknophibia, their most recent release. The band has its feet planted firmly in 2001 with its music that never gets too adventurous or exploratory. The lyrics, however, focus on the large-scale puzzles of the world and tries to balance the fine line of optimism and a bleaker reality. In other words, no "Lavenders blue, dilly dilly" for this outfit.

The personnel for this recording is: Steve Hogarth, vocals; Steven Rothery, guitars; Mark Kelly, keyboards; Pete Trewavas, bass, and Ian Moseley, drums.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Between You and Me
A piano introduction belies the all-out rock that this song delivers. The band sounds very much like U2 with its hip-hop inflections with the rhythm and Hogarth's dead-ringer-for-Bono vocals. This song is the hands-down choice for the album opener.
Quartz
Trewavas' snaky bass pattern anchors the verses of this number that deals with two people living in different worlds -the difference between "clockwork" and "quartz." "You're only happy when you're oiled and jewelled" snarls Hogarth. The song goes into a relaxed mode before winding up with a venomous edge.
Map of the World
Perhaps the "single" of the album, this is a radio-friendly, guitar-based song. The song optimistically looks at a woman who leaves her little part of the world - "She's gonna see it all."
When I Meet God
The lyrics deal with some philosophical questions ("If the bottle's no solution / Why does it feel so warm?") over the song's nine-minutes-plus length. The track starts off somberly enough with keyboards and restrained vocals. There are some short Genesis-inspired bridges between the verses. The cut moves in a slower mode where Hogarth poses the same questions he asks earlier, but he tries to end the number on an upbeat note: "Waves and numbers / But oh, such beautiful numbers / And oh, such waves." News broadcasts, however, offer an unsettling ending to the song.
The Fruit of the Wild Rose
There is a bit of contrast in this song as the verses feature a bluesy feel, similar to the Booker T. & the M.Gs. The chorus and bridge veer from that pattern, but the song then kicks back into a funky, bluesy mood for a two-minute jam at the end.
This Is the 21st Century
The longest cut on this album at slightly over eleven minutes, the song has a lighter feel to it, due mostly to Mark Kelly's keyboards and relaxed beat. The intro has a bit of an ominous feel to it before the verses move into a different mode. The song finishes with a lengthy, slightly ominous coda that restates the opening theme.
If My Heart Were a Ball It Would Roll Uphill
The album ends positively after all. Surprisingly, though, the song packs a big wallop with crunching power chords from Rothery. It stomps along until it goes into a 5/4 interlude before returning to the original mode and a stream-of-consciousness lyric pattern.
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