Album Review: Fish – “A Feast of Consequences”
“Can you give us 500 words on Fish by Saturday?” “Sure”, I replied, “but when did Pure Rawk merge with Robson Green’s Extreme Fishing, and can I make puns?” For that I got a well-deserved clip around the lughole, a firm rebuttal and a promo copy of the new CD by Derek Dick, aka Fish. A Feast of Consequences you might well say…
So then, down to business. This collection represents a 10th solo studio outing by the one-time front and lyricist for 80’s neo-prog conspirators Marillion. If we count albums recorded as part of that band, that’s an impressive fourteen LP career to date (not counting bootlegs, live recordings and collaborations). Knowing this, we can extrapolate a couple of fairly safe assumptions. 1, we’re dealing with a seasoned songwriter, and 2, this is a record unlikely to provide any great surprises in terms of musical direction.
A Feast of Consequences certainly starts out very much as expected. ‘Fishheads’ everywhere will, no doubt, be pleased by the opening track, Perfume River. It begins with bagpipes, features an extended three minute intro sequence, combines synths with acoustic guitar, and marches on until just shy of the eleven minute mark.
If that’s a bit on the excessive side, things instantly change tact. All Loved Up is a lively, straightforward rock and roller which catches Fish in splendid candour dissecting the sycophancy of social media. Elsewhere, and perhaps unsurprisingly, things tend to get a bit reflective. A strong contender for the album’s best track is Blind To The Beautiful, a tender combination of earthy vocal, well observed lyrics, a gently strumming guitar and a simple string arrangement.
Five tracks in the middle of the record combine together under the umbrella of The High Wood Suite. It’s effectively a concept mini-album within an album, complete with spoken word sequences (Well? This is a prog record). As you might expect from material inspired by the Battle of the Somme, the suite provides a darker, folkier context in comparison to the rest of the record. As a consequence, the album tends to feel a little like two EPs bolted together, rather than a full body of work in its own right.
Overall, A Feast of Consequences may not quite be fit for the Captain’s table, but it certainly has its moments, boasting rich, well-crafted, songmanship, and a recognisable gravitas. You can hardly blame one of the UK’s leading purveyors of neo-progressive rock for releasing an album of… neo-progressive rock. What exactly was he meant to do? Go Romo?