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Marillion - Brave CD (album) cover





3.97 | 966 ratings

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3 stars Brave is a turning point in the Marillion's catalogue. The change doesn't come from a sudden increase of compositional quality though, Brave is a good album overall but hardly outstanding. No, the turning point is that they finally learned how to bring Hogarth's voice into play.

At its best moments, Brave finds the answer to the question that had been nagging Marillion for two albums: "Where do we go from here?" Well, they finally use Hogarth's voice for what it's good at: emotional and atmospheric rock songs, sometimes epic sometimes poppy, and supported by music that is more laidback and spontaneous then the bouncy prog they did with Fish. Good examples are the slowly developing Living With The Big Lie and the elegant Runaway.

It follows the same pattern of Clutching at Straws, meaning it's a number of mostly individual songs that are patched together to form some kind of conceptual unity. Unfortunately the experience is not consistentently good. Some of the tracks seem to wander around without much of a point. Goodbye To All That for example brings 12 minutes of harmless prog muzak with some occasional outbursts that are hasty rather then purposeful. But the most awkward moments come when Marillion still considers a career as an arena pop act, Hard As Love, The Lap of Luxury and Paper Lies especially, veer off in contrived pop directions that I won't go along with.

But there is magic as well. The three closing tracks are absolutely stunning. Especially the brooding Celtic beauty of Brave is a most outstanding track in the Marillion catalogue. It introduces that repetitive guitar picking, an element from post-rock and indie that would become an important influence in their sound. The Great Escape is a big and dramatic gesture full of echoing pathos. The over-reverbed production makes it sound rather dated now but it remains an emotive highlight. Made Again as a fine semi-acoustic closer and provides a bit of sonic variation to the generally big sound.

On the next album, Marillion would perfect most of what they tried to achieve here. But that doesn't seem to be the general point of view. As it stands, Brave is a competent and ambitious album, but too uneven for excellence. 3.5 stars

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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