Marillion - 'F.E.A.R.'

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Marillion - 'F.E.A.R.'

Marillion firmly believe 'F.E.A.R.' is one of the best albums of their long and fruitful career. Who am I to disagree?

It took me aback when I realised that this is the 18th Marillion album and the 14th with the band's enigmatic front-man Steve Hogarth. How did we get so far down the road? In many ways that's exactly the question the controversially named 'F.E.A.R. (Fuck Everyone And Run)' is asking. How did we get to a place where the world and its people seem to simply look at each other and exclaim "fuck it!", and run. It's not a shout of hatred, of ambivalence or even a chuckled fuck you. This is a band questioning how the world became so openly every man for themselves.

'The New Kings' and 'El Dorado' turn the focus on world events, big business, governments and the twisted systems that maintain the status quo while ensuring the gap between those who have and those who don't continually widens. The ethos of "we can do what we want, as you do what you're told" runs underneath it all. Yeah, I know. Who do these Marilli-blokes think they are to tell us how to look at the world? But they're not; the expertly crafted lyrics merely ask questions and hold up mirrors so the reflections we see are the conclusions we draw.

The band also holds that mirror up to themselves; 'The Leavers' is about being in a constantly touring band. This isn't a narcissistic tale from the road, however, but the difficulty of adjusting between life on tour and life in the home � the constant desire to leave, the constant struggle to return to those they genuinely love � in what is the everyday to their semi-permanent extraordinary. The tender honesty hits deep as it does in 'White Paper', a song that again looks at family, relationships, how they evolve and how we deal with the consequences.

Reading that back, you'd think 'F.E.A.R.' is a depressing album and yet, its triumph is that while it certainly doesn't shy away from intimate, intense fragility, it's also a hugely uplifting, beautiful collection. Guitarist Steve Rothery stamps his authority throughout; brash and bold, small and intricate (hell, he even revisits his classic solo-sound in '...Leavers'), while the manner in which he, Mark Kelly's keys, Pete Trewavas's bass and Ian Mosley's drums combine, is majestic.

Marillion firmly believe 'F.E.A.R.' is one of the best albums of their long and fruitful career. Who am I to disagree?

Steven Reid

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