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Marillion: Somewhere Else

Marillion seems to be appealing to a commercially-oriented buying demographic with this album. There are parts of this record you'll love, and there are parts ... you might not. The band's work in the Hogarth era is marked by its variability - or some might say inconsistency. Although there have been some dud CDs, arguably including Radiation, Anoraknophobia and marillion.com, each of those records had some excellent songs. Similarly, the great albums had songs that were less than stellar. So it's generally safer to think of Marillion's work in terms of the songs rather than the CDs. Having said that, though - Somewhere Else probably fits somewhere between Marbles and marillion.com stylistically, and it's closer to .com in terms of quality.

Somewhere Else doesn't share all of Marbles's progressive elements, its subtleties, or its general appeal. This music is a bit more linear, and it's very vocals-oriented. Steve Hogarth's singing is as emotion-laden as ever, switching effortlessly in and out of falsetto, and very expressive - in the style of "The Invisible Man" or "Angelina" from Marbles, or Radiohead's classic "Creep". But you might wish that he would stop singing for just a few minutes and let some instrumentals shine through. Steve Rothery's legendary guitar work is heard in only a few places, and Mark Kelly provides some very appealing piano lines, but there aren't any instrumentals to into which you can really sink your teeth.

"Most Toys" is a hard-hitting rocker with very simplistic lyrics that won't have much appeal to Marillion's traditional fanbase, although it might win them some commercial radio time. "Last Century for Man" also has simplistic lyrics with little subtlety, and a catchy melody that stays with you for days. There are no epics here, with 10 songs in just 52 minutes, and the title track (the longest at 8 minutes) is the standout piece with a meandering structure, gently appealing delivery and an almost minimalist approach to the instrumentals. Some might call it sleepy - but it definitely goes into the list of Marillion's better songs. Other highlights are the opening track "The Other Half", and "Thank You, Whoever You Are" - a fairly straightforward piece that features some nice but all-too-brief moments from Rothery's guitar.

If Marillion is chasing after radio time, or if they're wooing the Coldplay / Radiohead / Pineapple Thief audience, this song-oriented record will probably get them there. But it will do so at the cost of a significant portion of their progressive rock fanbase.

Track Listing:
The Other Half
See It Like a Baby
Thankyou Whoever You Are
Most Toys
Somewhere Else
A Voice from the Past
No Such Thing
The Wound
The Last Century for Man
Faith

Added: June 20th 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Score:
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 2828
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Marillion: Somewhere Else
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-19 23:59:59
My Score:

I've read other reviews of this, Marillion's 14th record, and friends have warned me not to drive while spinning Somewhere Else, lest I fall asleep at the wheel. But to be honest, I just don't understand all the less-than-flattering hoopla surrounding this album. Of course, count me among the minority who didn't care for Marbles, so maybe Somewhere Else works for me precisely because it doesn't sound like its predecessor. Sure, there's Coldplay references, which are really just references to modern-day U2 -- a band soncially referenced in this album's title track, from Steve Hogarth's faux falsetto to Mark Kelly's dominant piano. Mid-paced rockers like "The Other Half" and "See It Like A Baby" seem to find Marillion sounding rejuvenated, and "The Wound" could just be the heaviest this band has sounded since -- oh, I don't know ... the Fish era (or at least "The Uninvited Guest"). Even though "Most Toys" might fit better on a John Payne-era Asia record or even a Cheap Trick album, you gotta admit that it keeps Marillion sounding fresh (if not exactly prog).

The album wanes in its latter half, with "A Voice From the Past" failing to speak up and "The Last Century For Man" practically DOA. And, yes, Marillion does seem to be chasing a younger demographic that's more enchanted with modern and accessible prog from the likes of Porcupine Tree and Blackfield than pleasing an aging fan base that still wears its loyalty to the band's original lead singer like a badge of honor. But these guys aren't getting any younger - one look at the band photos in the booklet for Somewhere Else reveals just as much - so can you really blame them for grasping at relevance?


Marillion: Somewhere Else
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-31 13:31:21
My Score:

With the release of Marbles a couple of years ago, Marillion showed their fans that the band was still a vibrant and intriguing source of Progressive Rock music and this album touched upon the elements of Pink Floyd as well as their own past to offer up some unique material once again. The album itself was praised high and low as the band's return as a force to be reckoned with as far as the genre was concerned. Somewhere Else finds them taking a little bit of a risk with the re-establishing that they achieved on Marbles because after the first few numbers you are left wondering about the band and curious as to what plans they have for us in the future. The opener of "The Other Half" is interesting enough with its atmospheric vibe and unique guitar styling ala Steve Rothery and while "Most Toys" is a solid enough number it seems as though it could have been written for Peter Gabriel. "Thank You Whoever You Are" is a reflective ballad that comes in far too early and would have served best as the albums closer and to me this felt as that they were aiming for the crowd that listens to the likes of Coldplay or Radiohead as opposed to their core listener base. Marillion fans have stood steadfast with the group through numerous style modifications and changes and while there is a certain level of appeal to the release it is nowhere near the level of quality that we were again finding on Marbles. With Somewhere Else we are finding them more in tune with the sounds they did on questionable releases such as Radiation and Marillion.com. I admit that I found a track or two on each of those albums of some interest and with Somewhere Else I also liked a couple, but it took me too long to appreciate what they are doing here and I really feel the larger fan base will tend to agree with me here. Lyrically it seems like a strong release and Hogarth's voice is superb but it is everywhere as opposed to offering the chance for the musicians to shine. We do find some nice piano work by Kelly but there is nothing stellar going on drum wise that would kick it up a notch and perhaps raise the level of excitement. The band has succeeded if they are attempting to delve into the Commercial Rock genre but I fear at the same time they might be distancing themselves from the long-established fan base that they have worked so hard to maintain. While this is a decent listen at best - Marillion needs to focus once again on the type of music that made them so special in the first place. To do otherwise might find this fan base going "Somewhere Else".

Marillion: Somewhere Else
Posted by Steve Pettengill, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-28 08:16:46
My Score:

Marillion finally return with their long awaited follow up to the now classic Marbles album. Was it worth the wait? Yes. Sort of. But you probably won't think so on your first, second or even third spin. For while the cinematic Marbles was chock full of terrain that never failed to invite endless exploration with each listen, Somewhere Else is a slow moving tide of quietude, driven almost entirely by mood and atmosphere. But given time, the ten songs begin to register and slowly burn into the back of your brain. "The Other Half", "See It Like a Baby" and the emotional "A Voice From the Past" are all excellent songs driven by Steve Hogarth's passionate delivery. "Faith" is absolutely gorgeous and closes the album on an uplifting if mellow note.

Ironically, for a band that became synonymous with the "neo-progressive rock" movement in the eighties, probably much to the band's chagrin today, it is the epics on Somewhere Else that prove problematic. The eight-minute title track could have been a mini masterpiece, but it suffers from a meandering arrangement and an annoying "Mr. Taurus ate a thesaurus" chorus. Likewise, "The Wound" at seven minutes feels about two minutes too long and while it should convey the frayed emotions of the lyrics, the song simply peters out.

Sadly, guitarist Steve Rothery and keyboardist Mark Kelly are woefully underutilized on Somewhere Else and while their restraint is admirable, a little more presence probably would have assuaged some of the album's weaker moments. A shot of energy would be just what the doctor ordered.

Marillion never deliver the same album twice and Somewhere Else is no exception. No, it's not prog rock, but who comes to Marillion for that these days? Instead, it's a fairly solid piece of modern rock that should hopefully win the band some new fans.


Marillion: Somewhere Else
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-07 19:55:20
My Score:

Somewhere Else, the latest release from Marillion, is one of those CD's that takes a long time to digest, and just when you think you have figured it out, you scratch your head and wonder if perhaps you'll need to spin it again. Honestly, I've done this for weeks now, and I think the main problem is that there's very little here that's really moving me. The band's last album Marbles had no such problem, as it hit you pretty much immediately and became one of their most enjoyable and respected releases in many years. Much of Marillion's output since the mid-90's has been hit or miss, and this follow-up to Marbles just seems closer to a miss than a hit. Not that Somewhere Else is bad mind you. Things start off quite promisingly with the solid 1-2 punch of "The Other Half" and "See It Like a Baby", both edgy rockers with Steve Hogarth's soaring vocals, understated keyboards from Mark Kelly, and tasty guitarwork from Steven Rothery, who lets out an inspired solo on the latter. However, from there things get rather bland and show a band who seem more interested in getting commercial airplay than catering to their faithful fanbase. "Thank You Whoever You Are" sounds more like Coldplay than Marillion, drenched with Hogarth's crooning and Kelly's piano and Mellotron samples, while "Most Toys" is a snarling rocker that is anything but prog, sounding like a leftover from Marillion.com with its hard rock guitar riffs and pounding rhythms from Ian Mosley and Pete Trewavas. The title track is the CD's longest piece, with some nice prog & ambient textures, but perhaps is too long as it tends to drift a bit despite some tasty guitar lines from Rothery. "A Voice From the Past" and the psychedelic "No Such Thing" try hard to be dreamy Brit-pop, but ultimately fail to ignite any spark, something that "The Wound" has no problems doing. This one might be one of the best tunes on the CD, with swirling organ, great vocals from Hogarth, and understated yet effective guitar work from Rothery. More importantly, the arrangements are powerful, the melodies memorable, and the vibe adventurous. "The Last Century For Man" is almost a lost cause, but thankfully the band kicks it up towards the finale with some symphonic keyboards & Rothery's soaring slide guitar licks, and the CD ends on an acoustic & bluesy tone with "Faith", a nice enough song, but not really characteristic of a band like Marillion.

You have to say one thing about Marillion-they always keep you guessing. Somewhere Else might not ultimately be what loyal fans were hoping for after the solid Marbles, but if the band hopes to appeal to new markets with this release, they just might given the right amount of marketing and promotion. The end result is a nice, somewhat bland album, with little to classify it as "progressive rock", but in reality the band has been trying to move away from that classification for years. Perhaps it's just me, but I miss the days when Rothery and Kelly would blast away with some 70's inspired solo spots; however, seeing as Hogarth takes up so much of the space in Marillion's music these days, those memories are becoming more and more fleeting.



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