Music Review: Marillion – Sounds That Can’t Be Made (Ear Music, CD)

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Marillion – Sounds That Can’t Be Made

An album that kicks off with a 17-minute epic about the troubles in the Gaza strip can not be described as “easy” listening by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s just what long-running English band Marillion does with its 17th album, Sounds That Can’t Be Made. “Gaza”—which is written from the viewpoint of a Palestinian who views Israel as an enemy and oppressor—is certainly edgy and may be offensive to some due to its subject matter. Thing is, it’s the most potent piece of music on this album, which, while another quality release from the dependable band, slightly suffers from lack of variety—specifically a sense of melancholy that dominates the lyrics and musical settings the band came up with this time around.

When Marillion started in 1979, the band had a classic prog sound that evoked early, Peter-Gabriel-led Genesis (especially the vocals of frontman Fish). After Fish left the band in 1988, his replacement, Steve Hogarth, took Marillion to a new place—a more emo, less overtly classic-prog place. Marillion v2’s signature sound is more akin to Coldplay than Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and Sounds That Can’t Be Made continues this tradition: tracks like “Montréal”, “Invisible Ink” and “Pour My Love” are slow, moody and sad, sad, sad. And Hogarth’s reliance on falsetto voice doesn’t do him any favors here—he should refrain from that, and stick with his deeply emotive full voice, if you ask me.

Sounds That Can’t Be Made is sumptuously recorded, filled with beds of keyboards from Mark Kelly, David Gilmour-esque guitar leads from Steve Rothery, and concise but spot-on drumming from Ian Mosely.

If you love Marillion, you’ll love this—it’s more of what their fans have come to expect, and plenty of it, clocking in at a very generous 74 minutes. I did enjoy listening to it, but would welcome some musical adventurousness from the band next time around—perhaps some changes in tempo?

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