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Marillion - Brave CD (album) cover





3.97 | 1001 ratings

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4 stars A Brave Move

I've listened to many of the post-Fish albums now, in the vain hope that I might somehow come to terms with Hogarth's singing style. I find it "precious" and somewhat contrived - in other words, not to my taste. On the other hand, he has no problems with intonation, uses a palette of different singing styles, and avoids the obvious in the melody lines - which is always a good thing.

As ever, the lyrics are sixth-form standard, generally contrived to get the rhyme or, where there is no rhyme, the mechanics stand out uncomfortably - here's an example of both;

"The clash of religions The loaded prayers Information The face of starvation and the state of the nation"

I suppose h is trying to be contemporary - but my feeling is that he writes for his audience, not for himself - this latter is, for me, one of the hallmarks of a great lyricist, that the audience is largely irrelevant and the inner poetry is everything; Although the concept of "Brave" is not a bad one in itself, the subject matter may not be to everyone's taste and the presentation leaves me somewhat repelled. To sugar my bitter pill of criticism, however, the concept is kept up the whole way through the lyrical content of the album, which is no mean feat.

There's not too much to criticise in the musicianship on this album - where later albums like "Anoraknophobia" were very beige in style, with the uncomfortable feeling of having been designed for FM airplay, the music here is recognisably the same Marillion who wrote "Script For a Jester's Tear", with an underlying Celtic (Scottish) flavour, most noticeable in the title track.

Kelly uses string pads and piano sounds to create some beautiful ambience, but not as many solos as I would like - in some places I find it too understated. Rothery counterpoints this ambience with his hallmark understated guitar - but also unleashes that beast at just the right times. Trewavas keeps it very solid on the bass - which is very well produced indeed - but seems a little short on inspiration.

"Hard As Love" is on the surface a stand-out rocker of a track, and somewhat commercial, but all kinds of little "proggy" elements can be heard to shine through - and that organ solo is superb - a nice surprise, given that Kelly's solos normally tend to be delicate and haunting melodies rather than raunchy seventies Hammond rockers.

"The Lap Of Luxury" sees the beige style I mentioned earlier starting to creep through - although Marillion attempt to counter this by making it overly busy in places to the point of harmonic dissonance. This track is a rare instance of filler, until the last two minutes or so, which work surprisingly well.

It's good to hear a band pushing the envelope of their own style, and there is really precious little by way of contemporary music to compare Marillion to - the influences that permeate this album are quite amazingly diverse; even 1980s rock is not ignored in the quest for the Marillion Holy Grail.

If you don't like the flavour of 1980's rock, then this album may not appeal to you. If, on the other hand, you can listen with an open mind, this will become an album to revisit. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection and definitely better than just "Good" - but I would hesitate to call it essential. Three and three quarter stars!

Certif1ed | 4/5 |


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