Album review: MIKE + THE MECHANICS – Let Me Fly


BMG [Release date 07.04.17]

When Mike + The Mechanics played live recently – ostensibly to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Word Of Mouth – it was clearly evident they were also promoting a new album; taking pre-release orders in the foyer and, perhaps surprisingly, with four tracks in the setlist.

That gig demonstrated again that you can’t beat a good song and – sadly – 25 years after their period of greatest success they are unlikely to repeat it.  Although it has to be said the album remains radio-friendly throughout.

Let Me Fly is not unlike its predecessor The Road (2011) in being generally fairly forgettable with only a smidgen of really standout tracks.  In that sense the album can only really be viewed as a gesture and as a modern bolster to an already very fine catalogue based around some key late-eighties anthems.

The use of two vocalists may seem confusing but it’s been a feature since the glory days of Paul Young and Paul Carrack.  Tim Howar and Andrew Roachford have taken up their legacy with aplomb and are more settled in although Roachford really takes the lion’s share of the vocal spoils just as he does in the live context.

There aren’t enough more purposeful tracks like ‘Are You Ready’ and ‘The Letter’ to balance the safe and the saccharine.  Although the latter unashamedly echoes ‘Silent Running’ rather than breaks any new ground.  Whether by accident or design the weaker tracks appear to be those where Howar takes the lead, such as ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’, the insipid ‘High Life’ and ‘Love Left Over’.

At times, with the Roachford lead vocal tracks, you could be listening to one of Roachford’s solo albums and that can’t be right either.  And on ‘Not Out Of Love’ there are even echoes of ‘Another Cup Of Coffee’ lending the impression that there’s some lazy re-engineering going on.

It’s really the vocal performances – especially Roachford’s – that lift this album above the routine and the mundane.  With regard to instrumentation it’s typically synth-driven – Mike Rutherford was never one to use his electric guitar in anger and his contribution is typically muted allowing his vocalists the spotlight.

The title track with its rousing choir-assisted  chorus – although redolent of ‘Let It Be’ – and the early single ‘Don’t Know What Came Over Me’ remain the outstanding offerings here.

Notwithstanding Phil Collins’ return this summer Rutherford at least keeps the late-Genesis pop rock vibe flowing in 2017 although sadly it all seems somewhat sanitized even by late-Genesis standards.  ***1/2

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Gig review (Manchester, 15 March 2017)
Album launch (London, 28 March 2017)

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