Album review: W.E.T. – Retransmission

Frontiers Records (Release Date 22.01.21)

Of all the melodic rock supergroups assembled, usually on the Frontiers roster, W.E.T. have proved to have staying power.  This fourth studio release  comes a relatively recent three years after its predecessor ‘Earthrage’, which is no mean feat given the prolific recording schedule of their main protagonists, singer Jeff Scott Soto, Work of Art’s Robert Sall and Erik Martensson.

The latter seems to be the main creative influence as producer and main songwriter, the other two just chipping in with the odd co-write, and it is inevitable that trademarks of his work with Eclipse influence the album’s sound.

With each successive  release W.E.T. have sculpted their sound down to its essentials and ‘Retransmission’ is their most direct effort yet, going straight for the jugular and wasting no time in reaching the hooks and choruses.  Proof comes in the fact that of the eleven tracks, four weigh in at only just over three minutes.

Opener ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ sets this tone with Jeff singing over a big bank of backing vocals, while ‘The Moment of Truth’ is outstanding- the bulk of the song has a smooth style with prominent keyboards, courtesy of Robert, and a slight Survivor influence, before kicking into a different gear altogether with a series of neo-classical inspired guitar solos from another Eclipse man Magnus Henriksson.  There is more shredding from him on ‘Call of the Wild’, which as befits its overused title is rather formulaic, but the best is about to come.

‘Got to Be About Love’ begins quietly then bursts into a memorable hook-filled chorus with a commercial production which brings Jeff’s vocals to the fore, while the solo this time comes from Robert and is reminiscent of Kee Marcello’s on Europe’s ‘Superstitious’. ‘Beautiful Game’ is pacier with solos from Magnus that combine speed and melody, but is equally hook-filled, and melodic hard rock does not come much finer than this pair.

‘How Far to Babylon’- perhaps a little close to ‘Road to Babylon’ from one of Erik’s other projects in Ammunition-  has more of a groove to it with a chant-along chorus before exploding late song into a guitar solo, this time from Erik.

Inevitably the quality cannot quite be maintained from this high bar- ‘Coming Home’, with more Def Leppard-style gang vocals, is something of a grower while ‘What Are You Waiting For’ is a relatively average ballad, but a welcome change of pace. The same is true of a lesser extent of ‘How Will I Know’, which is a mid-tempo slow burner with the keyboards which are generally sparingly used on the album coming to the fore for once.

However any lingering anti-climax is swept away by a brilliant closer  in ‘One Final Kiss’, which flies by as stabbing keys over a Jeff vocal intro give way to another instantly commercial number with a big chorus and a slick guitar solo from Robert, again all wrapped up in a three minute package.

My one reservation is that the album is an instant fix and comes over as rather effortless. Hopefully this reflects their natural talent rather than laziness, but they do seem to have mislaid the sense of adventure in the arrangements that marked the first album.

 Nevertheless, with those straight ahead hooks wrapped in a rare fresh, bold production, it sets high standards as a strong early contender for melodic rock album of the year.

**** 1/4

Review by Andy Nathan

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