Marillion — Afraid of Sunlight
(EMI 7243 8 33874 2 7, 1995, CD)
by Mike Grimes, 1995-11-01:
With all of the bad things I had heard about this album before even listening to it, I was wondering if Afraid of Marillion might be a more appropriate title. I ultimately overcame my fear of the album and gave it a listen. Unfortunately, I quickly realized I was probably going to agree with many of the prior criticisms I had heard. On Afraid of Sunlight, Marillion has certainly developed and refined their style since last year's Brave. However, the foundation for this album is based on many of the things I liked least about Brave. For example, most of the Afraid of Sunlight tunes have a slow and mellow feel to them. Even the upbeat numbers seem to drag. I felt similarly about Brave and hoped it was a trend that they would not continue. The songs all sound like they're building up to something, but don't ever get there. I keep listening, waiting for the pinnacle, but it never arrives. Marillion has the capacity to go all out with the best of them, and that is where they really excel – like in the chorus of "King of Sunset Town" for example. That pretty much rocks! While I admire bands that don't remain stagnant and change with each release, I don't like to see groups abandon some of their best traits either. The finale song on the album, "King," maybe autobiographical to some extent, sounds like it's about dealing with the pressures of success and how it can be difficult getting what you think you want. It has the closest thing to an all out jam on the entire album, and is probably the best track. "Afraid of Sunrise" is also one of the better tracks and features some really enjoyable fretless bass work – probably the highlight of the album for me. The "feature" track, "Cannibal Surf Babe," has an obvious nod to the Beach Boys, but sounds like a weird cross between "Good Vibrations" and the theme to Dr. Who. Maybe that was the intent, but I'm not really convinced that it works. As much as I wanted to like this album, I really have a hard time getting into it. Calling it boring would be harsh, but it is certainly dull at times. After Holidays in Eden, I thought Brave was a step in the right direction. I can't say the same about the transition between Brave and Afraid of Sunlight.
by Dan Casey, 1995-11-01:
After six years, Steve Hogarth's output with Marillion has reached this, their fourth album since the departure (and some would say demise) of Fish. The most immediate thing about Afraid of Sunlight is that it is not along the same lines as Brave, but rather a return to more of a Holidays in Eden style. While that isn't entirely true (the atmospherics and production are virtually the same as Brave), it is true in the most obvious department, the songwriting. The opener, "Gazpacho," is a snide commentary directed towards some of the most well known media figures (OJ Simpson, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, etc...). Ian Mosely's drumming is straighter than ever, as he experiments with some new sounds and moves away from the traditional drum kit approach throughout the whole album. "Cannibal Surf Babe" has been discussed ad nauseum, but is more or less a poke at the Beach Boys. Here, it pretty much falls flat on its face (but it does work surprisingly well in their live show). Next up is "Beautiful," a typical Hogarth sugar-coated ballad. The "Afraid of Sunrise / Out of This World / Afraid of Sunlight" suite fills the center of the album, and the soaring guitar solo in "Out of This World" marks the highlight of the album. Indeed, it is the ONLY real solo on the album, and that is a major disappointment. In fact, there are only a few lead lines on guitar or keyboard at all. The closer, "King," is perhaps the strongest single track, with its frenzied and dark ending hitting you like a slap in the face. Not what you'd expect from Marillion. Overall, this album sounds more like leftovers from Brave and Holidays in Eden than anything else. Certainly Brave remains the high water mark of the Hogey years, and this is an inadequate follow up.
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more