This was a close round, although my pick stayed constant throughout three listens of each album. I was the first one to vote in this round. I wrote:
I think I'm as ready to vote as I'm ever going to be. This was a difficult round.
As I mentioned before, I had listened to the Wobbler album extensively when it came out in 2017. I liked it then, and I liked it even more now. It's definitely a throwback to classic prog, with all of the strengths and weaknesses that implies. It's biggest drawback is that it does, at times, fall into what I sometimes think of as the classic prog rock conundrum - develop some melodic themes, usually around the vocal parts, then play a bunch of complicated shit until the next theme develops around the next vocal part. (It's like the difference between the arias and the recitative parts in opera.) But the themes here are nicely developed, and grew on me with repeated listens.
When I first realized who Fish was, I had some mixed feelings. I'm not a big Marillion fan, beyond Misplaced Childhood, and even on that one, there are some songs I like a lot and others I can do without. What I've heard of Fish's work with Marillion can be a little over the top, in the same way that I feel a lot of Peter Gabriel's work with Genesis could go over the top.
However, I was very pleasantly surprised here to hear how understated Fish is on this album, and how accessible the music is. Yes, many of the lyrical themes have been done before, but I feel that they were done very well here. (I notice that this album also fills the vacuum that Friday had pointed out in this year's contest re/something more in the folk-prog vein.)
Wobbler is definitely the proggier album, but I don't concern myself with that. Once Friday rules that an album is proggy enough to include in the contest, I vote almost solely on which album I like better. And while I liked them both a lot, the one I liked slightly better is the Fish album.
So much to my own surprise, my vote is for Fish.
Nevertheless, I knew from the get-go that of the two, Wobbler was the proggier album. So I wasn't surprised at the final vote count.
Final Results: Wobbler 11 votes, Fish 5 votes