An ab­sorb­ing glimpse into the prog icon’s last hur­rah.

Prog - - The Musical Box - DL

Re­leas­ing this much new ma­te­rial so far in ad­vance of wide­ly­dis­cussed fi­nal al­bum Weltschmerz might seem like an avoid­able case of pre­ma­ture, um, elu­ci­da­tion, but the songs on this EP are so good that Fish can be for­given for has­ten­ing the process. The am­bi­tion and the in­ti­macy of this ma­te­rial has brought the best out of the big man. In fact, he hasn’t sounded this com­mit­ted or con­sumed by the power of his own po­etry for a very long time. De­fi­antly prog-to-thecore and at times al­most mis­chie­vously Floy­dian, Lit­tle Man What Now is the finest of the three tracks: a gen­tly har­row­ing tale of real world strug­gles in the face of eco­nomic dis­ar­ray, it’s as deeply af­fect­ing as any­thing Fish has sung since leav­ing Mar­il­lion; his self-ev­i­dent emo­tional in­vest­ment in the sub­ject mat­ter mak­ing it feel vastly more per­sonal than po­lit­i­cal. Waver­ley Steps’ 14-minute sprawl is guar­an­teed to de­light vet­eran fans: more up­grade than throw­back, it’s the sound of Fish ap­proach­ing the exit with his prog rock head held high. Man With A Stick com­pletes the tril­ogy with a dash of men­ac­ing pomp. If the rest of Weltschmerz is this good, we may be talk­ing about a clas­sic.

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