This is my favourite album from any band and I don't say that lightly. However it didn't start off that way. After Holidays In Eden - with blow-you-away tracks like Waiting To Happen and 100 Nights - I felt a little disappointed on the first play, perhaps because I didn't see a clear highlight or obvious singles. It felt like Misplaced Childhood minus Kayleigh and Lavender.
But then, once you get to know Misplaced Childhood, you soon realise that the rest of it is worth much more than those two commercial singles, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And so it is with Brave, only more so. You need to understand and accept that before you can get the most out of it, and I am so glad I kept playing it.
The story is powerful and emotive, filled with pain and handled intelligently, and the music follows it. Like a good book, there is something new in Brave every time I listen to it, even after nearly ten years. This contains some of the best guitar work Steve Rothery has done, and Steve Hogarth really shows his worth here. Musically it is nothing short of a masterpiece. No other piece of music inspires anger, fear, compassion, empathy, hatred, pain, isolation and finally understanding as Brave, at least for me. Only The Cure's Disintegration comes close.
Don't expect something you can dance to or commercial throw-away pop. If you want to feel as well as listen, this is for you. But a word of advice: before you make the slightest judgment on Brave, listen to it at least ten times - and that means give it your undivided attention each time. It's worth it.