|Angeline - 'Confessions' (Avenue Of Allies)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Sunday, 20 June 2010 06:00|
Don't ask me how I decided to put this melodic rock platter on my death deck instead of straight on the parp pile. I'm guessing it was the band name. 'Angeline' was the name of a song that broke hearts when I was fronting a dirty rock 'n' roll band two decades ago - saw tens of faces, rocked them all - so I think that curiosity, and sentimentality, got the better of me.
What generally happens when I fall for the press blurb that accompanies an album is this; I think "this might actually be pretty good", put the album on, listen to one minute of dated AOR shit, shake my head and wonder "who the fuck still listens to crap like this" then send it to Dave Prince. This is what happened with the new album from H.E.A.T. But when I put 'Confessions' by Angeline on, ears braced ready for the adult orientated assault, I couldn't believe what I was hearing - a great record from a band that has been around for over two decades and done practically nothing.
Formed in Sweden in 1987, Angeline recorded a mini album - 'Don't Settle For Second Best' - in 1990 and the single 'Rain' in 1994. But tragedy was just around the corner as vocalist Jorgen "Sigge" Sigvardsson succumbed to a long term heart condition in 1995. With guitarist Jocke Nilsson taking over as lead vocalist, Angeline reinvented themselves as a cover band, even recording an album of cover versions in 1997 produced by Mats Lindfors (Europe, The Poodles). With bi-annual 'Family Days' held in memory of their former singer since 1997 the band, in 2007, decided to perform a special one-off show at one such event to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the band. It was here that they decided to write and record some new material, culminating in the surprisingly excellent 'Confessions' album that is pumping out of my headphones as I type this.
A band formed in '87 who have played cover tunes for almost every intervening year have no goddamn right to lay ownership to such a cool, contemporary melodic rock record! The first minute of the first track sounds nothing like Europe/Journey/Michael Bolton-lite like the majority of the other parp pap that gets sent for review. It sounds like 40ft Ringo whose 'Funny Thing' album from 2003 was probably the last album of this ilk to make me sit up, take notice and throw a couple of keytar hero shapes. That's unfair actually, keyboards are noticeably absent from 'Confessions' - good times! 40ft who? I hear you exclaim. Let me explain - 40ft Ringo were a band who came out of nowhere with an album that combined the nu-breed of power pop with stadium rock to great effect. And all that with a couple of members of Trixter. Trixter who? I hear you exclaim. If you had your head buried in decent music you might have missed Trixter - think an earlier version of Reckless Love; adored by cloth-eared girls, abhorred by everyone else.
But let's get back to good bands. That first song on 'Confessions' - 'Pray!' - rides on a fat Ringo riff and features a catchy-as-cooties melody line that sounds like Def Leppard meets Gun (yes, Gun!). If that trio of musical monoliths has raised an eyebrow or two as you read this then this record is for you as it follows that template pretty closely, and coolly. 'Fuel To Your Fire' throws an Electric Boys-esque funk-o-metal riff on the hot coals before the flames engulf your listening holes with soaring melody. 'Blackout' (no doubt written to honour the charity work of the fabled Parp Aid organiser) rocks, as does the great 'Good Is Getting Better' which sends a message to all those keyboard loving buffoons in Sweden - throw big guitars at a cool song and they will stick.
There's a song called 'Rock Of Ages' just in case that Leppard influence escapes your grasp for a moment, but the influence of which I speak (apart from being almost solely based on Joe Elliot style vocals at times) is more the cool stuff that da Leps attempted on 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' than 'Let's Get Rocked', thankfully.
'Love And Affection' houses another funky riff while 'Part Of Evolution' provides the album's heaviest moment with a hard 'n' heavy riff that is generally banned from this kind of album. 'Miracles' follows and you understand why that monster riff preceded it; yes, it's iPhone lighter app time. Happily, this heartstring tugger of a ballad is more 'Origami Mommy' than 'Carrie' so no pig blood is getting spilled today. 'Someday Somehow' and 'Running On Empty' close out the record, again in fine style, with big riffs and bigger hooks.
Kudos to Jocke Nilsson who, apart from providing some great vocals and even better guitar, engineered, mixed and produced this shiny disc of wonder rock that has earned itself the Über Röck seal of approval. Why? It really is all about four letter words, and RIFF beats PARP every time.