Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Label: AOR Heaven 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
The first Alien album (self-titled, 1988) is considered an AOR classic. It included their version of The Marbles' "Only One Woman" which was a number one hit in Sweden, not to mention several very popular songs. The band's career took a bit of a nosedive after that album, with several line-up changes and albums of lesser quality. A few years ago the original line-up made a triumphant comeback at Firefest, followed by another highly praised performance at the festival last year. Their recorded output after the comeback has been limited to one single only, the rather fine "Ready To Fly", but this is about to change as "Eternity" will see the light of day on 25th April.
Has it been worth the wait? Is it as AOR-styled as the debut? Is Jim Jidhed still the vocal god he once was? These are some of the questions you might have, and I believe my answer to all of those is "Yes!". This is easily the band's best album since the debut and it is very much in similar style. Fine melodies, soaring choruses and Jim Jidhed is in fine form. If anything, his voice has improved like fine wine, the years have brought some nice edge to it. Tony Borg's guitar work is highly melodic and Toby Tarrach's keyboards are upfront in many of these songs, and overall the sound of the album is really smooth and pleasant.
Let's take a look at some of the highlights... The track first heard at last year's Firefest, "In Love We Trust" is a suitable opener for the album. It went down really well live and it's an AOR gem on the album too. "Love Will Lead Me Home" has some familiar-sounding melodies, maybe some echoes of Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died In Your Arms", but despite or maybe because of that, the song is one of the most instant "hits" of the album. "I Believe" is a classy ballad and with Mr. Jidhed behind the microphone it's elevated to another level. The slightly heavier "What Goes Up" rides on a persistent keyboard riff and oddly enough, I keep thinking that this song wouldn't have sounded out of place on Europe's "Out Of This World". "Wild Heart" and especially "Liar, Liar" are both fine uptempo tracks with strong choruses. Then there are the bright'n breezy "summer AOR" songs "Unbroken" and "Summer Of Love", very enjoyable too... Interestingly, "I'm A Fighter", the one song written by Pam Barlow and Janet Morrison Minto who co-wrote much of the first album, is one of the more "ordinary" tracks of the album... It just goes to show that the band is very much capable of coming up with future AOR classics on their own!