47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2000
The first two albums under new singer Steve Hogarth had seen Marillion move more in a "pop" direction and become less and less the "progressive" band of their roots. So by the time Brave was released, many fans of the Fish era had abandoned the band. Marillion were by this point recording for a much smaller fanbase. Brave saw the band make a much unexpected return to progressive rock. It is a concept album that explores the life of a young girl and examines the problems that lead to her attempted suicide. In my opinion, the album is simply brilliant. It is deep, richly textured throughout, shows Marillion's musicianship used to best effect, features some of Steve Rothery's best guitar playing and the concept is strong enough to stand the scrutiny of an entire album. The opening track, Bridge, takes you to the incident of the attempted suicide itself, and almost all of the rest of the album attempts to explain why she was driven to it. Living With the Big Lie details her distrust of the establishment; Runaway actually encompasses much of her story in one song; Hard as Love is about the difficult emotion that love can be (and is actually one of Marillion's hardest rocking tracks); The Hollow Man is about the feeling of loneliness and how fragile an individual is when nobody cares about them (though Hollow Woman would have been a more apt title considering the stroryline!); The Lap of Luxury (which with radioplay would have been a big hit single) is about her feeling of isolation and fear of domestic violence in her apparently comfortable, respectable, middle class suburban home, Paper Lies (another hard rocking track) is about how the tabloid press twist the facts to make a good story; the titletrack is musically very different for Marillion, with its distinctively Celtic feel; The Great Escape trilogy is quite simply the most stunning, powerful and emotional piece of music I have heard, when the central character finally cracks under the pressure. The final track, Made Again, ends the album on a positive note. In the end, she has chosen to rebuild her life instead of commit suicide, and she has also discovered a close companion who shows her the kind of love and care she has never known before. A truly beautiful and uplifting ending to a superb album of musicianship, vocals and songwriting. Marillion will never better this.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2003
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.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2005
I find it hard to comprehend how I failed at first to notice the astounding brilliance of this album. On first lisening I have to say I was totally underwhelmed, expecting more in the vein of Holidays in Eden and Seasons End. However, possibly because I thought there was something in there worth listening to, but more likely because Marillion had not released anything for a couple of years and I was craving new music I kept on playing it, and playing it, and playing it. Soon I couldn't stop playing it and I started getting to know it (even the confusing 8 or 9 minute parts) and I fell totally in love with its blissfully sublime music.
After 12 years that is still pretty much where I am today. Every play of the CD is a special event, I can't put it on if I might be interrupted or if I have company, and every play I love it more and more. Music does not come any more evocative and truly special.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2007
Your band with its new singer has failed big time to recreate the commercial success you enjoyed a few years before. What do you do? Try and airbrush the image even further in the hope of one last ditch attempt at fame? Decide to call it a day and retire to a life of guest appearances and solo projects? Or do you put two fingers up to the whole thing and decide to return to the essence of what you were trying to do in the first place?! Marillion took the latter course and ended up producing the most admirable work of their career.
Brave takes inspiration from a report of a lost girl with amnesia on a bridge and extrapolates a background of abuse, loneliness, need and want. The lyrical narrative is encapsulating and the music ebbs and flows with the story. Dark and mysterious soundscapes build into monumental outpourings of emotion. Moments of contemplation erupt into vicious floods of rage.
The only fault of Brave (if there is one) is that to be truly appreciated it needs to be listened to as an album - however good each individual track is it can never sound as powerful alone as when heard in conjunction with the whole piece.
The title of this album is highly appropriate - you'd have had to have been brave (or just plain mad) to have released a concept album at the exact moment Britpop was kicking into life. But in a way it worked as a career move showing the depth this band have and allowing them to take the creative direction that has produced so much. Brave might not be quite as good as its follow up, Afraid of Sunlight - but that's akin to saying Revolver isn't quite as good as Sgt Pepper. If you only decide to own one Marillion album this should be it. But be warned: if you get into Brave it certainly won't be the only one you'll end up owning...
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2004
I have been a Marillion fan for many years. This album represented a huge artistic turning point for the band, silencing the critics who had accused them of 'selling out' by releasing radio-friendly pop songs on previous albums. Everything they have done has been fine with me, but it was this album that proved that Steve Hogarth was as important a creative force and frontman as the now long-forgotten Fish.
I have listened to this album countless times, and on every play I hear something I had not noticed before. This is a record that reveals itself slowly, so give it your time and full attention, and your life will change for the better.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2000
Marillion wanted to create a modern day masterpiece, an album that was truly something special. Brave is the result of this ambition, the result of much hard work and painstaking attention to detail. Not many artists nowadays have the intelligence to even try and create a concept album, Marillion were one of the few exceptions to this rule. The band created a fictitious tale to theme the album, based on the true story of a runaway girl. Be moved by the emotion of the track Runaway, the hard rock of Hard as Love, the emotion of Steve Hogarth's vocals on The Hollow Man and of course Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury, which deserved to be a number one single. A bonus CD is also part of this package, including acoustic versions of The Hollow Man, Runaway and Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury. Yet the highlight of this bonus CD is a brilliant orchestral version of The Great Escape. This album is simply one of the best. I haven't heard many singers in recent years who can express so much emotion as Steve Hogarth and Steve Rothery on guitar proves he is one of the best.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This album is spellbinding nothing short of this can be said of this. I have always been firmly in the Fish camp regarding marillion having grown up on SFAJT and Fugazi etc..but have to say that this is the best album that the band have ever produced. having bought this the day it was realeased and moving my tastes away from rock to dance but still compelled to write a review on this album some yrs later means a lot to me. Every song works its way in it's own unique way..from the start of the album..bringing in arguably the best song on the album early on in runaway girl(check out SR on guitar)marillion really have earned their money on this..From beginning to end the story is poignent and meaningful and the music suitably shows off the talents of the members of the band..CD2 takes off with a song in paper lies which was truely deemed for airplay..before settling down to what marillion fans want and that is real atmosphere that translates from the CD to live performances...and in the Great Escape they manage and surpass this expectation..THIS Is truely an exciting and emotional rollercoster of an album where marillion should be proud that this album is there amongst the great prog rock of the 70's - Buy it!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2000
Marillion have become somewhat underated you realise when you listen to this. Even though each song is different the album tells a story as you move from song to song. Very powerful and emotive, Marillion really knows how to build a crescendo, and Fish could learn a thing or two from Steve Hogarth. I can't recommend all Marillion albums, but I can recommend this one.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2001
I remember buying 'Brave' when it was first released and it still sounds new to me. I cannot think of another album that has such depth and scope. The only other album that comes close is Pink Floyds 'The Wall', which is fantastic, but no where near as deep as 'Brave'. Forget about 'Holidays in Eden'. That was just a vain attempt to get airplay. 'Brave' is a rich tapestry of sound. It is passionate, atmospheric, beautiful and utterly absorbing. This is simply a work of art. Marillion deserve to be one of the most famous bands in the world.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2007
This truly is a masterpiece, and it is nothing short of criminal that EMI failed to promote it properly. For my money, this is the Marillion equivalent of Dark Side of the Moon, and given that I believe Dark Side to be the best album ever made, I don't say that lightly! In simple terms, this is seventy four minutes of pure emotion, the perfect marriage of lyric writing, musicianship and singing that you will ever hear on any their albums before or since. To fully appreciate it, you need to play it straight through, and you can, as there are no filler tracks, which considering the length of the album, is some achievement. If you are already a fan, and for some bizarre reason, have yet to hear this - buy it now! If you are a thinking person, who is looking for something more than bubble gum music, give it a try - you might like it. One star for each member of the band.