Sunday, July 17, 2011

AIRRACE: "Back To The Start"

Rating: 7/10

Frontiers 2011

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Airrace might hold the record for "The Longest Time Between First And Second Album" - just 27 years. Their debut "Shaft Of Light" is considered a classic by many, I don't know about that but it's certainly a good album. The band's second album follows the debut pretty seamlessly, despite the almost three decades that have passed. Keyboards parp like it's 1985 all over again and the melodies are straight from the Big AOR Songbook. That translates as "outdated" or "vintage-sounding", depending on your point of view. I have no problem with the sound, especially when the band doesn't sound like a bunch of old geezers trying to cash in on their past glories. Vocalist Keith Murrell is especially convincing, still a first class AOR vocalist.

The first two tracks are very both very good songs, they've could've been easily included on the first album. After these songs things get a little weird, as Airrace start to play the "Soundalike Game". They start it lightly with "When Baby", which is their "Boston song" I guess, nice vocal harmonies and Tom Scholz-approved chugging riffs. To be honest, even the previous song "Two Of A Kind" had some Bostonesque guitar melodies... "Call Me Anytime" gets almost the full points - this is Toto's "Hold The Line", right? Mixed with a bit of Foreigner? "So Long" starts with a military beat, dramatic... hey, I got it! This is Survivor's "Burning Heart Of The Tiger"? Good songs all three, but...

The album's title track sounds suspiciously familiar, but I can't name the song... Foreigner maybe? The poppy "Just One Kiss" reminds me of a song too, but the genre's completely different and this can hardly be called a "soundalike". Still, can't help but think of Jackson Five's "ABC" when I listen to this track.

For the next three songs the band turns into a standard pub rock band, only to return to AOR for the last song "What More Do You Want From Me". Well, this song's got a cool, driving beat and keys reminding me of early Michael Bolton material, but to answer the question in the song - how about a better chorus?

Let's sum this up, apart from the dull pub rock tracks, all the songs are OK or better. The most "soundalike" tracks are a bit funny but enjoyable all the same, and the band seems to be in vital shape. As an eighties-styled 9- or 10-track album with the least noteworthy tracks saved for the Japanese market or something, I wouldn't have hesitated in giving this a better rating, but now it's only a "7". But welcome back anyway.


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