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Old 04-06-2009, 09:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cool Marillion - Marbles [2004]

released October 5th, 2004

Five years later and I still can't ignore it. I've gone as long as 6 months without listening to a single track off the album, but it remain my favorite. Let me break it down here.

The Invisible Man [10/10]
The first of three epics on this double album is all about subtleties, transitions, and timing. It's broken up into three or four movements powerful and beautiful movements that tell the story of an invisible man (ghost?) who is unable to communicate with the one he once loved. A masterfully written piece of progressive rock.

Marbles 1 [8/10]
Part 1 of 4 marbles interludes that speak of loosing ones marbles. The first, a brief and elegant interruption. If nothing else, curious.

Genie [7/10]
Marillion has always had a couple different sides to them. Whether you like it or not, they've got some pop in them. This wouldn't survive much on its own, but it has a place in an album that is greater than the sum of its parts. If you can tolerate some...fluffiness, there is some decent tones and moods here, but it might take a few listens.

Fantastic Place [8/10]
Similar to Genie, there is some pop influence here, but Fantastic Place is a beautiful song marks the peak of positive emotion on the first disc of the album before slowly descending into Ocean Clouds. After you're familiar with the whole album, it becomes a very important part of the journey.

The Only Unforgivable Thing [3/10]
This one rubs me the wrong way, I could have done without it completely. Somehow I always get tricked into listening to it for its curious melodies, but end up dissatisfied at the end.

Marbles 2 [8/10]
Another gentle reoccurrence of Marbles that leaves on off on a curiously upbeat cliffhanger.

Ocean Clouds [10/10]
Epic #2. 18 minutes of patient movements and churning waters. Among the slow waves of vocals and oceanesque sounds are a couple surprises and a truly captivating story. It hasn't the catchy melodies that'll instantly grab you, but any fan of progressive rock will realize what a gem this is for its unbelievable creativity and mood. Most notably the several small movements from 9 min - 14 min. Beautiful vocals and transitions. Absolutely brilliant.

Marbles 3 [9/10]
Suddenly the story is shifting and from the vocals you get the sense that he's is beginning to loose his marbles. Still, there is a beautiful optimism in the small melodic transition. Perhaps going mad isn't so bad?

The Damage [3/10]
What a bummer. The second song I could have really done without. It's catchy, but that only increases the pain, why must they do this?! It's possible some others might find something to enjoy, it just doesn't seem to flow with the rest of the album at all.

Don't Hurt Yourself [8/10]
Easily the most catchy song on the album. It's a toe-tapper, a knee-slapper, a hand-clapper, maybe even a butt-flapper, but it isn't all too memorable either. Not needed, but welcomed.

Your Gone [7/10]
I've never made up my mind about this song. It's kinda nice and catchy, but the chorus seems too simplistic.

Angelina [10/10]
Who knew a song about a prostitute could be so beautiful. This is damn near perfection, not a single note out of place. Starting off a bit slow might be the only possible criticism. Though its a quiet song I recommend playing it loud and listening carefully.

Digging Holes [6/10]
Somewhat of an experimental track. It has its moment, but it is different. Everyone is going to take something different away from this I feel. For me, I find it intriguing, but not enough to play it exclusively.

Marbles 4 [7/10]
The finale of marbles doesn't provide any sort of climax, but that shouldn't have been expected. It's really an introduction to the extremely climactic final track.

Neverland [10/10]
Take a moment and tolerate the slightly cliche lyrics. Just as with fantastic place, Marillion takes a cliche idea with seemingly cliche tones and creates something beautifully unique. Neverland is best appreciated after having listened to the album as a whole. About five minutes in he adopts an interesting idea of repeating words and fading his voice a bit, emulating an echo. Why? I dunno, but give it a chance, it goes places...thats all I can say.

It is by no means a "perfect" album as it has some forgettable and even irritating songs, but the three big epics (The Invisible Man, Ocean Clouds, Neverland) are more than enough to take away; as well as Angelina. Listen to it when you're in a relaxed, calm mood...listen carefully for the delicate transitions and you're sure to find something you'll enjoy.

Also, if you are to find this album online or in stores, ensure that you are looking at the double album that contains Ocean Clouds. They released an American Version, reducing it down to one disc.
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