Frontiers Records [Release Date 15.05.15]
I was beginning to wonder if Nelson’s excellent comeback album Lightning Strikes Twice was also to be their swansong as a recording entity, but nearly five years on the immaculately coiffed twins are back with a fresh offering.
The tone is upbeat and pop-oriented throughout beginning with ‘Hello Everybody’, which in both vibe and lyrical intent as an opening ‘welcome to the show’ live song is very close to Cheap Trick’s ‘Hello There’.
‘Back In The Day’ is classic Nelson, a fun piece of nostalgia with bouncy melodies and ‘Invincible’ is in the same mould, and all the better for including the wonderful word ‘Incorrigible’. However the guitar melody is in comfortably close to Boston’s ‘Peace of Mind’ and indeed a criticism of the album is that too often I found myself doing my Tom O’Connor impressions and saying ‘name that tune’.
Many of the songs including ‘I Wanna Stay Home’ and ‘On The Bright Side’ with its air of Cheap Trick, The Beatles and ELO are in power pop mode. However, whether a deliberate move to fit the style or not, the production is in places disappointingly raw. The guitar work however is crisp, clean and uniformly excellent.
The second half of the album is more interesting than the first with ‘Rockstar’ an irresistible tune with big hooks and a slight Bon Jovi vibe, followed by ‘Autograph’ which inverts the situation and is sung from the point of view of a groupie (though the lyric ‘I hope it doesn’t come across as scary, I hope it’s you when I lose my cherry’ should have been left on the cutting room floor). ‘What’s Not To Love’ is another feel good anthem with the sorts of hooks Bon Jovi used to write but seem to have lost the knack.
‘You And Me’ takes the brothers into an unusually heavy groove and ‘Bad For You’ is another instantly catchy classic, rattling along at a fair pace with guitar solos being traded. It would have been an ideal album closer, but they then take a left turn with the R n B feel of ‘Leave A Light On For Me’, the type of song Bon Jovi might have written as a tribute to Southside Johnny.
While a little lightweight compared to its predecessor, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, feel- good album which shows the Nelson brothers talent for writing hook-laden songs, and whilst the quality is variable, at least two or three will find my way into an end of year playlist. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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