Album review: THE BIG DEAL – First Bite

Frontiers Music [Release date: 06.05.22]

The Big Deal is a Serbian Melodic Rock band, an offshoot of highly successful Progrockers, Alogia.

Husband and wife team, Srdjan and Nevena Brankovic are the band’s centrepoint, handling guitar, production, songwriting and vocals. Nevena is joined by the stunning Ana Nikolic at the mic. It’s been a while since we heard two female singers fronting a rock band.

They’ve recorded a video performance of Abba’s ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’ just to make the point. (but it’s not on the album).

All the songs have a distinctly familiar air, like the machine’s been cranked back to the fag end of the eighties, and competent if colourless songs fill FM Radio’s play lists.

Four front loaded tracks just about manage to rise above the others.

‘Never Say Never’s very ordinary chorus is redeemed by Brankovic’s frantic but melodic axe solos, gilded with Nevena’s classical piano touches, and the quick paced, vaguely Pop/AOR sounds of ‘ I Need You Here Tonight’ and ‘Top Heaven’ are spiked with whatever is drunk at Cheesy Balearic Dance Clubs, bringing them to zombified life.

‘Sensational’ is probably the album’s standout track. There’s a hint of bittersweet Abba harmony in among the rippling piano currents and pounding bass lines, as the song rises, rather satisfyingly, to a cool, eminently melodic chorus.

Too often though, what’s missing are truly outstanding compositions.

Songs that can carry the weight of predictable arrangements and lacklustre vocal performances. Reheated, keyboard driven AOR songs, like ‘Rebel Lady’ and ‘Bad Times’ may be emblematic of an era, but today’s audiences are looking for more than homage.

So, much of a mixed bag then, with perhaps enough promising signs of life early in the album pointing the way ahead. **1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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