Album review: WORK OF ART – Framework

WORK OF ART - Framework

Frontiers Records [Release Date 19.09.14]

Few current bands in the world of melodic rock are of such reputed standing as Work of Art, the Swedes led by guitarist Robert Sall, also of W.E.T. Both their albums to date have been spoken of in hushed tones as the nearest thing to a contemporary Toto this side of the West Coast. However the third album presents a dilemma – to stick with the tried and tested or tweak the format?

They manage to do the latter without departing too much from their trademark.  Advance notice suggested they had gone for a slightly more guitar heavy approach  but the biggest difference for me was some very pompy seventies-style synthesiser solos on ‘Can’t Let Go’ and ‘Over The Line’ (incidentally rather too close in feel to the similarly named Airrace song).

Robert Sall gives reveals more on the album and touring plans…

What have you got planned for the next few months e.g. recording, new musical projects etc.

Right now we really trying to focus on playing as much gigs as possible to support our latest album. That our main priority right now, the rest will have to wait.

Could you take us through the new album ‘Framework’? e.g. ideas behind the songs, song writing process

Most of the songs on the album were written in 2011 while we were waiting for our “In Progress” record to get released. I didn’t meant them to be Work of Songs necessarily but when Frontiers approach us in 2012 about doing another album, we pretty had enough songs for a new record. Then we record these songs throughout 2012 and 2013. Once we listened back to the recordings we decided we needed a couple of 3 or 4 more songs to spice up the album a little bit as there were 1-2 ballads too many.

So I wrote “Can’t Let Go”, “The Machine” & “Shout Till You Wake Up” late 2013 and that was the last songs that was written for this album. Funny enough, all 3 of those songs are among my personal favourites on the new album so I think it was a good decision to throw away some of those older songs. We then finished the last recordings and mixed the album in June this year.

You already have a spot on the Vasby festival bill next year. Is it difficult to get a decent run of live dates together? What has been the live highlight so far?

It is hard in that sense that we are all pretty active outside the band so to find a string of dates when the 5 of us in live band is available is quite a challenge. But for single shows every now and then, it’s usually not a problem. And we do have quite a gig proposals that we currently discussing but the only booked gig right now is Vasby next summer. But more gigs will be announce during the next months.

The new album is getting rave reviews. How does the band keep coming up with such great songs given that each album is of a very high standard?

I think me, Herman & Lars has a good ear of what work and what doesn’t. Sometime when you are the main writer, you kind of lose perspective of your writing but the other guys are really good at single out which songs or, which part of songs, that doesn’t quite work. After that, it’s pretty easy for me to re write what ever needs to be re written. So I guess you can say that we have our own quality control within the band.

Message for you fans…

Well, I want to thank everyone for patiently waiting for this new album. We know that 3 years is a long time but we hope it was worth waiting for. Now I hope to see you all on the road!

‘Time to Let Go’, with some big backing vocals, and ‘How Will I Know’, with a great guitar solo, kick off proceedings in fine style, while ‘Shout Till You Wake Up’, with some very Toto-esque keyboards, and ‘Machine’ are probably the rockiest songs they have written without losing their ear for a smooth melody.

The production is full and layered, with different instruments competing for attention in a way which keeps the album fresh with repeated listening. While the tempo perhaps is a bit samey, Lars Safsund’s vocals are a clear delight throughout, and likes of ‘Natalie’ – even down to using a girl’s name for a song – and ‘Turning Point’ are a Toto for the 21st century. There is only one ballad, the closer ‘Waking Dream’ reminding me of cult AOR hero Van Stephenson.

Rarely has a band’s name been so suitable, such is the loving care put into a quality piece of melodic rock, which easily stands comparison with their previous work and is sure to feature in many end of year best ofs.  **** 1/2

Review by Andy Nathan

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