Frontiers Records [Release Date 22.05.20]
It’s now a whole decade since FM returned to stay with their comeback album ‘Metropolis’. Though from time to time they look back, rerecording ‘Indiscreet’ and most recently celebrating ‘Tough It Out’s anniversary on the ‘Big 3-0’ tour, their work rate in keeping up a steady stream of new releases is impressive.
The title track opens with some gloriously eighties keyboards from Jem Davis and is a lively up-tempo slice of melodic rock with a bit of a swing to it. ‘Superstar’ is catchy and breezy with its ‘just think about you’ secondary chorus and perhaps the latest of their singles that night attract attention from Radio 2. The solo from Jim Kirkpatrick is superb, fluent yet concise in a trademark style that recurs throughout the album.
However this is a more diverse album than its immediate predecessors ‘Heroes and Villains’ and ‘Atomic Generation’. It is never less than melodic, but draws inspiration from a broader palette of musical styles than pure AOR.
The looser, more rootsy vibe ‘ Best of Times’, boasting a wonderful Hammond organ intro, ballad ‘Ghosts Of You And I’ and ‘Broken’ and ‘Pray’, which verge on the eighties white soul of Hall and Oates and Go West, all make the most of Steve Overland’s peerless vocals, which I don’t think have ever sounded better.
‘End Of Days’ and ’Walk Through The Fire’ – the latter with some similarities to contemporaries Dare – are two of the more ambitious soundscapes FM have attempted and less instant than their usual work, but executed superbly.
‘Change For The Better’ is in safer fluffy AOR territory while ‘Hell Or High Water’ is a bit of filler. However the band take another chance and excel themselves with the six minute plus blues of ‘Angels Cried’, with some great slow slide guitar playing from Jim and Steve pouring heart and soul into his singing.
‘Ready For Me’ ends the album on a more conventional note, reflecting the band’s love of Bad Company, albeit with more modern production values, and a live anthem in the making.
Nevertheless the most impressive thing about this album is the way FM have avoided becoming stale by stirring a few fresh ingredients into the musical pot without losing their trademark sound, continuing a remarkably consistent decade’s run of quality albums. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Our Glass House (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SERGEANT STEEL Truck Tales (Boyz Tyme Records)
14:00-16:00 DAN REED Liftoff (Zero Entertainment)
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