8 tracks of pain and heaven. Beauty and sorrow. Success and defeat. Life and death.
An album that doffs it's cap to Lennon, OJ Simpson, Hendrix, Tyson, Cobain, Brian Wilson and Donald Campbell, is clearly not one full of laughs. But rather than languishing in misery and sorrow, this album rises like a phoenix from the flames to offer beauty, poignancy and catharsis.
The album still has influences of prog in there (influences NOT rip-offs) such as Floyd (Out Of This World), Genesis and Rush (Gazpacho). However, there are also references to The Beach Boys (Cannibal Surf Babe), REM (Beautiful), Nirvana, Hendrix and The Beatles (King), Talk Talk and Phil Spector (Beyond You) and Joni Mitchell (Afraid of Sunrise), although all of these influences are very carefully employed and not overused.
However, it's the title track that wins gold on this album. And this is a song that only Marillion could write. The epitome of all that's great about the band.
Interestingly, this album was made in a relatively short time, under great pressure from their label (after taking nearly 2 years to create it's predecessor 'Brave'.) I can only assume that pressure brings out the best in this band. They've never quite reached these heights again since leaving EMI (almost, but not quite).
If there is ever one Marillion album that you should hear, then this is it.