|Spin Gallery Embrace||Frontiers Records|
In many ways the new Spin Galley mirrors the story behind On The Rise. Several years since the debut, the band is now without key vocalist, songwriter and founding member Chris Antblad (pursuing a writing and solo career) and finds itself having to prove themselves all over again as a fresh project. But comparisons to the debut are always going to be made as the name remains the same.|
Chris wasn't interested in working as Spin Gallery again, nor was third vocalist Magnus Weidenmo, but Tommy and Kristoffer enjoyed working together and wanted to continue the name.
The debut (recorded for Atenzia Records) was a wonderfully slick slice of contemporary Westcoast pop/AOR with that dual vocalist approach used to great affect.
The new album is definitely a different affair. Primarily Tommy Denander on all instruments and programming and vocalist Kristoffer Langerstrom, Embrace continues the Westcoast style of the debut; with a strong Toto influence (Tommy's guitar tone and solos and the percussion arrangements in particular).
There is credit to Glen Marks for 'Live Drums', but to my ear a lot of the album remains heavily programmed in the same style as other Denander projects as Radioactive, Los Angeles and AOR.
Same goes for the overall sound of the album and Tommy's trademark guitar/keys/bass sound. You know what to expect there.
I'm not blown away by the production – I think it is ok and is mixed well, but those not enamored with the Denander sound will find the same challenges here to overcome.
And the quality of production does vary through the album. There are moments of high-tech precision and other tracks like Eyes Wide Open which sound rather low budget.
Vocalist Langerstrom has one hell of a unique voice. While I think he sang beautifully on the debut album in conjunction with Chris Antblad, thrust into the spotlight here on his own, there is not as much variety on offer. The higher range and whispering approach isn't going to be for all.
Those aspects discussed, there are some strong songs on offer here – the songwriting has again proven to be Tommy and Kristoffer's strong point.
There is no denying the melodies and hooks within are numerous and some very catchy Denander style AOR is on offer here – Embrace, Just A Momentary Why (featuring Robin Beck in duet on lead vocals), You Do The Things You Do (marvelous hook, and featuring Dan Reed on sultry vocals!), Tic Toc (moody coolness) and the glorious chorus hook of Everything Fades are all worth checking out.
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