I have not heard 2017’s ‘Malina’, but having been fairly disappointed in ‘The Congregation’, what would 2019’s ‘Pitfalls’ bring us? I sat there listening to it, and one word kept coming through my mind, Marillion. Now in fairness there were other times when it was also Muse and Opeth, but Marillion is the one which seems to make the most sense here. The music has become a vehicle just for the vocals of Einar Solberg, who it must be said is a truly incredible singer, and this music is not something I necessarily want to listen to. “At The Bottom” starts as if it has been recorded in a home studio with drum machine, keyboards and vocals, and given that Solberg is also the keyboard player it isn’t beyond the realms of comprehension that is exactly what it is.
There are indeed flashes of genius, as indeed the way that song in itself breaks into something more dramatic but it never continues for long enough. This is where Marillion comes in. I am one of those people who will argue their best material was probably prior to the release of the debut album, and they have not released anything I will actually play end to end for pleasure since ‘Childhood’. That does not stop me buying Marillion albums as I am an eternal optimist, and there are indeed some wonderful songs from the Hogarth period, but little which makes me want to play them time and again. The last time I saw them in concert I swore I would never bother going to see them again, but I am sure I said that a few times prior to that as well and I still go. There will be many people who feel this is a wonderful album, and indeed it is well-played and produced, but this is just not the Leprous I want to listen to. There are times when it is incredibly bland, and although some may say it is accessible, commercial and awesome, I do wonder if they would be saying the same if this was the first time they had heard material. If this was a debut then I may be saying there is promise, but this is their seventh release and I worry about what the next one will bring.