Frontiers Music [release date: 07.12.18]
Prime driver for this melodic rock/AOR outfit is Jon Siejka who created Magic Dance as a solo project in 2012. ‘New Eyes’ follows an earlier album ‘Vanishings’ and is the first output since the band was signed by Frontiers Music.
It is a decidedly retro, saccharine-heavy outing, though not necessarily in a bad way. The base layer of this AOR synth-rock cake comes from a staple 80’s recipe that might include Cutting Crew, Mr Mister and a host of other MTV-primed bands.
The sound is mostly light and pop-tinged. Some of the synth runs on tracks like ‘When Nothing’s Real’ and ‘Better Things’ bring back dread-memories of 6th form school discos where I’m stood on the side lines waiting for Guns ‘n’ Roses whilst the floor-fillers were coming from T’Pau and Johnny Hates Jazz.
Whilst this outing has to be seen as anachronistic, there is no doubting the quality of Siejka’s vocals. When he wraps his pure tones around album opener ‘You’re Holding Back’, and other tracks like ‘These Four Walls’ and ‘Please Wake Me’, he creates some slivers of undiluted joy. Title track and album closer ‘New Eyes’ brings a little of everything to the party.
Jack Simchak and Tim Mackey on guitars are sometimes allowed space to drop in some fluid solos and provide under-current riffs of reasonable substance: ‘Looking For Love’ – possibly the best track on show – and ‘Never Go Back’ are very pleasant moments. The band is completed by Mike Peniston and Kevin Krug on bass, and Kevin McAdams on drums.
On the whole, like too much trifle at Christmas, it is easy to get your fill of this album very quickly. There are not quite enough independent flavours to prevent a touch of AOR mush (e.g. ‘For a Time (The End of My World)’ around the middle to later stages of the album. But for lovers of retro AOR this will tick many boxes. ***½
Review by Dave Atkinson
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