First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2001, Volume 8, #10
Written by John Metzger
The funny thing about Marillion's twelfth studio effort Anoraknophobia is that it sounds decidedly un-Marillion-like. The band has completely undergone a sonic makeover — a change that has been in the works for more than a decade — and now finds itself adrift in a sea of rock defined by the '00s instead of the '70s. Surprisingly, it's not half-bad, though it's sure to test the patience of older fans more in tune with former bandleader Fish's progressive rock excursions.
That's not to say that Marillion has forsaken lengthy, lyric-heavy extravaganzas. It hasn't. But now the band, led by Steve Hogarth, frames its songs — from the hard-driving Quartz to the achingly beautiful The Fruit of the Wild Rose — in the style of U2 instead of Genesis, and Radiohead instead of Pink Floyd. Likewise, the band merges Moby with Roxy Music to create the ambitiously ambient, but woefully meandering ballad When I Meet God; casts a psychedelic spell over the Kula Shaker-swirl of Separated Out; and etches This Is the 21st Century into a dreamy aura that has an awful lot in common with the recently reformulated Waterboys.
Though all of the tracks on Anoraknophobia have their moments, they also tend to wander on for far too long, greatly overstaying their welcome. Both U2 and Radiohead know when to draw a song to its conclusion, leaving the listener wanting more. Marillion, on the other hand, has forgotten this part of the lesson, and it is in this way that the group demonstrates that it still has quite a lot in common with most prog-rock outfits. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box