Frontiers Records [Release date 15.04.16]
One of the pioneers, alongside the more famous Europe, of the definitive Scandinavian sound, Treat’s 2010 return ‘Coup de Grace’ features prominently in many lists of the best melodic rock albums of the last decade. I seem to remember that their Firefest show in 2013 was billed as a farewell but they hae returned to set themselves the challenging task of matching that success.
While Coup de Grace stayed within the mainstream, ‘Ghost Of Graceland’ is a bold statement by a veteran band to break out of their comfort zone and sound relevant. However in doing so they risk alienating their core fans, at least on first listen.
The title track opens the album and their intention to do something different is clear- a slow, moody pace and a chorus not unlike John Farnham’s You’re The Voice’, with a symphonic interlude mid section. While the chunky riffs of Anders ‘Gary’ Wikstrom are still to the fore the likes of second song ‘I Don’t Miss The Misery’ and ‘Inferno’ are accompanied by very poppy choruses of the sort fellow countryman Max Martin has made his own over the years.
However nothing prepares you for the oddly titled ‘Do Your Own Stunts’ which has an indie sounding vibe and the melancholic wide screen feel of the likes of Embrace and Snow Patrol. There are moments of more trademark Treat in ‘Better the Devil You Know’, with Harem Scarem-style melodic crunch yet an unexpected retro keyboard solo, ‘Endangered’, ‘Alien Earthlings’ (despite some rather annoying vocal effects) and ‘Too Late To Die Young’, where singer Robert Ernlund humorously references the 27 club.
Yet there are also some curveballs. ’Non Stop Madness’, which reminded me a tad of Theory of a Deadman and Nickelback, and ‘House on Fire’, also plough a more modern furrow. Most of all ‘Together Alone’ is a modern pop sounding ballad, almost entirely piano based with virtually no guitar and with Gary delivering a rare lead vocal.
Treat have taken what Sir Humphrey in ‘Yes Minister’ would call a ‘courageous’ decision to diversify their style and embrace new sounds. It is a difficult tightrope to balance, but after a third start-to-finish listen concluded with the convincing ‘Everything to Everyone’, I concluded that owing to the strength of the songs they have just about carried it off. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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