I was also very surprised when I realized that most tracks actually rely more on the keyboard/bass duo than the traditional guitar/keyboard combo usually found in 80s AOR. To be fair the excessive amount of keyboards is often justifiably mocked in that 80s sound but when it is used properly it is absolutely fabulous. It’s especially good on the way too cheesy “golden Swansdown” that was pulled straight from a SURVIVOR or a FOREIGNER greatest hits compilation. Or in the verses from “Taurus” that would fit in the soundtrack of a “Footloose” or a “Flashdance” at the critical point, where the hero must make the most important choice of its life, has to do it with the collest dance sequence ever, because dancing just fixes everything in 1985.
One might think that it’s all just tired clichés but because they were able to change just enough things to surprise us once again. Even though they are still present, the YES, KANSAS and BOSTON influences are slightly put in the background for an even more grandiloquent and radio-ready result than before : “DIvinyls” is an absolute hit in the making, immediately catchy and absolutely fantastic, “Golden Swansdowns” is the epitomy of a power ballad, so cheesy that it becomes genius, “Sister Mercurial”, with its irrestible rhythm will stay in your ears for days and “If Tonight’s Our Only Chance” is an anthem carried by an epic chorus.
Even the weaker tracks like “Carmencita Seven” or “Curves” all have their own thing that will make you appreciate them (drums for the first, the weird keyboards for the second one).
But the cornerstone of the whole album is the masterful “Transmissions”, with its delicate melancholy, a guitar that appears at the perfect moment and just builds up the majestic violin solo played by Rachel Hall. All those things make this track a memorable timeless moment that you will go back to again and again without a doubt.
And even after all of this, the real commander of this airline, the one that makes the magic happen is none other than Bjorn Strid who is once again beyond reproach . We are getting used to him just hamming it up just to show he is the boss of that plane but thinks it keeps working and that he obviously has a ton of fun doing it, he is right to keep doing it especially nopw that he is supported by choristers Anna-Mia Blonde et Anna Brygård. Thank to those three, the industrial quantity of harmonies all though « Aeromantic” make it a TOTO/ABBA hybrid and give it all its charm.
Of course it’s possible to find issues with this one : less hard rock than their previous efforts, the drums are a bit too much in the background, the riffs are a bit buried under the many layers… But in the end, this album is pure candy, a moment of sweetness and pleasure that I clearly needed in 2020. And despite those small problems, I went back to it over and over again all through the year, to the point where I had to admit it: this is a killer album.