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Marillion - Brave CD (album) cover





3.97 | 1001 ratings

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2 stars I've listened to BRAVE many times over the past few weeks -- and I'm re-listening to it as I write -- in an effort to "get" it. Esteemed fellow Archives reviewers Maani and James each give this 1994 Hogarth-era album the highest possible rating of five stars, but, for my tastes, I really can't go much higher than two stars.

What is it about this, my first post-Fish Marillion effort, that I find less than satisfying? Well, unlike some who have given low marks to Hogarth's vocals, I like his singing fine, and think that, if anything, Hogarth's taking over the mike from Fish has given Marillion a more original, less overtly Genesis-inspired sound. That sound has been updated since the MISPLACED CHILDHOOD era, and, unlike another reviewer, I have no problem with the inclusion here of organ with the more modern instruments and sounds. Though I have no complaints with the vocals or the overall sound of the disc, I do have "issues" with the album's theme, and the songs which serve as vehicles for its "message."

BRAVE deals with the unpleasant and all-too-brief life of an abused runaway teenage girl, who committed suicide by throwing herself from a bridge. I don't want to enter into an overlong analysis of suicide here, but I will say that I -- perhaps understandably -- find it (as with Floyd's THE FINAL CUT) to be a decidedly depressing theme for a piece of music. Nor do I believe that taking one's own life is an act of "bravery." I feel that suicide is a desperate, fearful and angry act of ultimate VIOLENCE by those whose mental state has deteriorated to the point that rational thought is precluded. Rather than merely ending with the death of the immediate "victim," suicide devastates the lives of too many people for me to regard it in any sort of positive light. I just can't "get behind" such a theme, and truly enjoy (let alone sing along with) such gloomy material.

Depressing lyrics and theme aside, I also find BRAVE's music to be too weak overall to permit extended enjoyment. There is some strong material here -- "Hard as Love" and "Paper Lies" are very effective "arena rockers," and merit listening, but much of what remains is by turns plodding, overblown, and (there's just no getting around it) rather a "downer."

Thus, BRAVE is not a bad album, as such, but an average one. Now that I have reviewed it, and in light of its sobering subject matter, it is not a disc that I expect to re-visit in its entirety very often, if at all. Rather, BRAVE is another good candidate for my CD player's "program" button. As with suicide, look (within) before you leap....

Peter | 2/5 |


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