All Access Rating: B+
|FM - Heroes and Villains 2015|
And yet, at least in America, radio is likely to give FM the cold shoulder once again. It doesn't seem to care for nostalgia acts, especially those from overseas that never really gained a foothold Stateside to begin with.
While their timing may be far from perfect, the Brits' savvy songwriting formula again yields a sack full of sparkling, if dated, gems, with "Digging Up the Dirt," "You're The Best Thing About Me," "Call On Me" and "Life Is A Highway" rushing forward with the sugary guitar crunch, delicious vocal harmonies, hearty choruses and clear, undeniably generous hooks – not to mention the uplifting, although somewhat trite, lyrical messages – of a Def Leppard, Night Ranger, Loverboy or Foreigner.
Bucking trends and ever-changing musical tastes, FM sticks to what works on the Frontiers Music effort Heroes and Villains, crafting strong, life-affirming pop anthems, such as the infectious "Shape I'm In" and the rollicking "Some Days I Only Wanna Rock And Roll," that let the sun in with their effusive charm. Even treacly ballads "Incredible" and "Walking With Angels" seem genuine and born of honest emotions, although FM does tend to lay it on thick and refuses to apologize for it.
Heavier stomps like "Fire And Rain" and "Cold Hearted" don't fare so well; whatever power they originally contained fizzles after tough, meaty beginnings, but Steve Overland's wonderfully expressive vocal clarity always manage to save the day, as does FM's cohesiveness and tuneful sensibilities. Heroes and Villains might not get the exposure it deserves for a group of ex-Samson refugees in founding members Pete Jupp (drums) and Merv Goldsworthy (bass), as well as keyboardist Jem Davis and new guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick, that once had a good run on the U.K. charts in the '80s. Wouldn't it be something if it did, though?
– Peter Lindblad