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Marillion - Brave CD (album) cover

BRAVE

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

3.98 | 708 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A brave attempt.

Even though it is one of the most highly acclaimed albums in the Neo-Progressive subgenre, Marillion's Brave is not all it's cut out to be for every listener. With the most sincerest of apologies to a great contributor and friend of mine through this site (who labels this album as his favorite of all time), this Hogarth-era Marillion album is lost in translation, between where they were and where they are now. A truly transitional album that at one time combines everything that they did with Fish and everything that they would do even to this day, it comes off as a stew of inspiration that never manages to get its hold on what it's trying to do.

One of the main problems with the album is that it always attempts to use the slow-climactic-build on every single song, often times defeating the purpose of the song in the first place. If you were to start just about any song it would be near deafening silence, and granted ? sometimes this style works very well. Hell, it even worked well for the band on their album Marbles some time later, but here it just doesn't work. While each song does get going eventually, the problem is that the attention span of the audience isn't always able to keep up with the constant break in momentum. On some occasions the songs are mixed so low that the album becomes simply difficult to hear without having to constantly toy with the volume nob.

Of course, this should never detract from the songwriting on the album. And being that it's a concept piece, the narrative of this album is of utmost important. It's an impressive one at that, the story of a suicidal girl at the edge of a bridge recapping her life and how she got to her position at life's edge. The songs themselves can be truly captivating, heart wrenching and downright emotional ? but rarely are they pulled off to the degree of accuracy as they were on albums like Misplaced Childhood or would later be on Marbles. Granted that on a true concept album, not every song is going to be instantly accessible or memorable, so long as they all contribute to the overall construction of the tone and story, but Brave seems to dance on the far side of story telling, forgetting themselves musically.

Still, there are a number of classics throughout the album. Even the most cynical Marillion critic will have a heart enough to accept quite a number of these songs as great, be it in a progressive realm or not. They may not be as overly complex as their forefathers, but that's simply the modern-ness of newer Marillion taking its course. Which is refreshing in the long run, really, since if everything just sounded the same then we'd have to pick fun at that fact instead (and this is something that neo-prog often gets hit with anyways). Songs like Living With The Big Lie and The Lap Of Luxury showcase Hogarth's voice at it's best, most emotional and powerful. In songs like this the man can shake you right to your core. Other impressive outputs on the album include the somewhat out of place, but still beautifully fragile Hollow Man with it's haunting melodies and Hard As Love - one of the few pumping rockers on the album, along with the equally charging Paper Lies.

While this review may seem to be trying to take the piss out of the album a little more than it needs to, there's no doubt that this is a very good album from a classic band. Anyone keeping their expectations in check who happens to enjoy the later era of Marillion will find a lot to like in this album. People who expect either extreme end of the Mariilion sound spectrum are going to be in for something of a surprise. Certainly an album to be listened to with patience, although if after a year or so it still doesn't catch on then the album may just not be for you. May I recommend a game of Marbles to ease your mind? 3 stars out of 5 for a very good, but ultimately inaccessible album that may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |

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