LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM – Paintings

last_autumns_dream-paintingsHere’s one of the most productive bands alive right now – another year, another Last Autumn’s Dream record. For us old geezers that hung around back in the 70’s and 80’s, one album a year is standard. Back then, when a band took three or four years in between albums, media called it a come back. Today, three years are nothing, today three years in between records is done by default. That’s why it’s an eyebrow riser when a band puts out records as fast as these guys do. Ok, they might not be a touring act – only the odd gig or two is what this band does after a release – so there’s some major time to write and record. But all the guys are really busy with other projects as well. Drummer Jamie Borger, singer Mikael Erlandsson and keyboard player Ulf Wahlberg tours frequently with a modern version of old Swedish pop band Secret Service, mostly in Russia and bass player Nalley Påhlsson has a new-found solo career with his band Royal Mess and he is also in Swedish metal band Therion, not to say that he’s also been touring with Swedish AOR queen Martina Edoff. Borger is also a member of Treat, a band that has gotten a revival in the last 6 – 7 years or so and they’re about to release a new album in April, so there’s not all that much time to write and record that one might think. That’s why it’s so impressing that the band – Borger and Erlandsson writes more or less all the songs here – manage to keep up the high quality that they have been keeping since 2008’s killer record Yes – the album that got me hooked on the band. Because, to be honest, I haven’t always been a fan of this project / band. The first seven albums that preceded Yes were for the most somewhat uneven records. Not bad by any means, but there’s not much on them that really sticks – which is kind of weird as there have been musicians such as Europe guys Ian Haugland (drums), John Leven (bass) and Mic Michaeli (keyboards) and one of the guys that started the whole project was Marcel Jacob (Talisman, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) involved in the project, all of them musicians that usually don’t put their names on half-assed stuff. Jacob was also a truly gifted songwriter, rest his soul. However, all the albums from 2008 up until now have been in surprisingly high quality when you consider the pace in which their records have been released in since then. So I don’t have any worries at all of the quality of the songs on this record.

Opener “My Mistake To Make” is a brilliant little AOR rocker, very catchy indeed. It has the kind of chorus that makes you hum it hours and hours after you have heard it no matter if you want it or not. I think that’s what you call a hit. But I’m sure it would benefit from louder guitars in the mix. But we get that – louder guitars, that is – on the next tune, “Bring Out The Heroes”. This is melodic hard rock more than AOR and it rocks quite the bit – and I love it. It’s my favorite tune on the album and it do help that all the melodies are über catchy! “Out Of Love” is another track with a contagious melody throughout the whole song, both verses and choruses stick and I get a hit feeling from it. Sure, nothing new under the sun, but it sounds like Last Autumn’s Dream all the way. “Too Late” is a pure AOR-smash that goes right to your brain and refuses to leave. The saxophone solo by Christer Falk is brilliant and makes the song stand out a bit. A cool AOR cover is standard for this lot, it’s not about if they’re gonna do one, but which song they’re gonna cover. This time it’s time for REO Speedwagon’s old smash hit ballad “Take It On The Run” (just for how long do I have to nag on you guys to do Streets’ “If Love Should Go”, huh?) and I was really looking forward to hearing their version of it. I love the original and so do the band so I was pretty sure they wouldn’t fuck it up, but I didn’t think that they would make it sound as good as they have done. I mean, there are no major changes to the song – thank you for that – but they haven’t played it slavishly close to the original either. It sounds like Last Autumn’s Dream playing a REO Speedwagon track and that’s what they do. Yes, it sounds damn terrific! “Won’tcha Stay The Night” would probably have been a huge MTV hit had it been released in 1987 or so. It’s an uptempo ballad with a brilliant arrangement and the melody is dazzling. They go early 80’s Bryan Adams on us with “An Eye For An Eye” and that can never be bad thing. It’s not, it’s a great song that rocks and grooves with the best of them.  The quality dips somewhat with “Bitter Blue”. It has a riff that is very close to a Bon Jovi “You Give Love A Bad Name” rip-off and the whole song is a bit too middle-of-the-road to really stick. It’s not bad, only forgettable. The same can be said of “In Case Of Landing On Water”, a ballad too cheesy for comfort and it also reminds me again of Bon Jovi, but this time of the Bon Jovi of today and that, I’m sad to say, is not a good thing. That said, the song is far better than anything that Bon Jovi have put on their records in later years. The band get a bit heavier, rockier and more raunchy with “Rock Star Crazy”. It’s not heavy metal by any means, but it moves in the rougher territories of AOR. The last track – the bonus track – “Even When I Hate You” makes me scratch my head in confusion. Why on Earth has this brilliant tune been reduced to a bonus track? It’s easily one of the best songs on this album and deserves to be in the “real” track list. It’s even a single in my ears. It’s penned by Nalley Påhlsson and he don’t write that much for this band, but maybe he should, He had shown everybody what a great song writer he is with his own Royal Mess album.

Again, I’m just amazed by these guys’ ability to come up with the goods every time a new record is about to be released. But even though the tunes are all really good, there’s one thing about Last Autumn’s Dream that worries me some – their songs are starting to sound too alike. If I would to put together a compilation album with them, I would have a hard time listening through it and tell which song belong on which record. It’s great that they have their own sound and identity, but to be honest, it’s time for the band to move outside their comfort zone before they go all Yngwie Malmsteen on us – you know, where people say that they won’t buy their new record because they can might as well listen to the old albums instead. So what am I looking for then? Well, they do know how to write great songs and they know their AOR, but heavier guitars and drums and a rougher production wouldn’t hurt and to make the song writing a bit more diverse, maybe bring in Påhlsson in that department a bit more. And a cover of “If Love Should Go”, of course. For this album, though, it’s a really great, albeit a bit predictable. But if you’re into this band then there’s no reason not to buy it and if AOR in general is your thing, then this album shouldn’t disappoint. Recommended.

Other Last Autumn’s Dream reviews:
Yes
Nine Lives
Ten Tangerine Tales
Level Eleven

8/10

Tracklist:

1. My Mistake To Make
2. Bring Out The Heroes
3. Out Of Love
4. Too Late
5. Take It On The Run
6. Won’tcha Stay The Night
7. An Eye For An Eye
8. Bitter Blue
9. In Case Of Landing On Water
10. Rock Star Crazy
11. Even When I Hate You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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