Returning with their 12th studio album FM are back with a bang ! Having witnessed this great UK institution live on numerous occasions including that memorable evening way back in 2007 when the group reformed for a “One-Off” headline performance at the much missed Firefest UK festival, this classy outfit has just gone from strength to strength. With a line up consisting of,
STEVE OVERLAND…Vocals, Guitar
MERV GOLDSWORTHY…Bass Guitar
Make no mistake with what this band have achieved over the years with sold out gigs and festival slots the world over, Download, Sweden Rock, Graspop, Steelhouse, Frontiers, HRH, Rock & Blues, Giants of Rock, Ramblin’ Man just to mention a few and along with rock solid studio albums such as the debut “INDISCREET” from way back in 1986, and the hugely impressive “TOUGH IT OUT” from 1989.
So fast forward 36 years from their formation in 1984, we are treated to a dozen fresh tracks that I am sure should whet the appetite for the fans and rock lovers alike.
Title track “SYNCHRONIZED” fires up the album with a roaring guitar and a solid keyboard feel with those unmistakable oozing vocals of Steve Overland making the song tick along with total ease. Mid tempo is the best way to describe the track with the group’s familiar leanings towards AOR / Melodic proudly on display.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBm1j7SjBd0&w=560&h=315]
“SUPERSTAR” ups the ante with a stupendous slickness and a cracking chorus, if BON JOVI ever need a reminder or a lesson on how to write a rip roaring catchy song then look no further than “SUPERSTAR” with its stacked up vocals and Jim Kirkpatrick’s solid riffs it’s a feel good number from the top drawer of UK melodic rock.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cpu_XhSF-Q&w=560&h=315]
“BEST OF TIMES” the first so called ballad on the album, with gentle acoustic guitar that is later joined with the full plugged in treatment and a simple solid drum beat, is steered along with that voice and that voice is still as strong after all these years. Vvocalists of this standard are few and far between with BOWES (Thunder), MacDONALD,( Skin, House Of Dimes) and OVERLAND in my opinion all being of the same calibre which sets the benchmark for others to follow. This track shows the wide breadth of styles that FM are prepared to record and release.
“CHANGE FOR THE BETTER” has that feel good summer feel to it reminding of another wonderful group ( Stage Dolls ) starting off with a gentle high hat and soothing guitar plucking away before everything kicks in. It has that uplifting feel to it that is much appreciated in these dark, horrible times that everyone is going through with the terrible virus that has engulfed all our lives. In fact this song is so enjoyable I have it playing on a loop, the way the keyboards intertwine with the guitars works perfectly and if people think FM’s heady days are behind them, then this song alone will change that opinion for sure,
Starting off with a short recording of a Radio / TV broadcast we are treated with a crunching riff and a mighty roar from Steve Overland as the track “END OF DAYS” with its hard hitting lyrics about social disease and social destruction comes oozing from the speakers with a beautiful interaction between keyboards and guitars. A dramatic sounding song with some hard hitting from Pete Jupp that propels everything along.
“HELL OR HIGH WATER” brings the fun back with it faster groove and chunky guitar. The way the vocals and backing vocals combine it displays in places a bit of a boogie riff but with the song consisting of 2 different tempos it alternates, but by the time we get to the guitar solo there is no holding back as its rips away. Another fun good time song all topped off with a master stroke of a vocal from Overland
“ANGELS CRIED” well if you love a bit of slide guitar then look no further than this amazing song. I just can’t get my head around how stunning it sounds. Easily the best track on the album with piano that is there for the duration and some vocals that make the hairs on your arms stand up.
This is a one of the best songs the group have EVER put their name to, and when a group has 12 studio albums under their belts then that’s a bold statement ! The six-minute duration is filled with every emotion you can think of with soothing moments that then just builds and builds and sometimes feels like it has gospel touches. Impressive is a word that just about sums “ANGELS CRIED” perfectly.
“READY FOR ME” with its sampled intro beat and weird noises, makes way for a bit of cowbell and a solid head down rocking tempo, prime time FM and a perfect way to finish the album off, but also leaving the listener wanting more. When the group fire up and blast out a song like this then it shows the other side to the coin and is a welcome sound to my ears. If you like your music to explore different styles then look no further than this album, it has ballads, rockers, a lots of groove and of course the stunning “ANGELS CRIED” a track so powerful that anyone that hears it will, like me be blown away.
I am so impressed with this album and when it gets its physical release will certainly pick up a copy and I recommend everyone else should to.
Review by Steve Bruty for MPM