THE RADIO SUN – Beautiful Strange

If you’re a Melodic Rock / AOR fan and visits sites like melodicrock.com regulary, then the name The Radio Sun should ring a bell or two. For years now, I have seen ads and sound clips by this band but for some reason I have never gotten around to check them out. The Radio Sun are a four-piece – Jason Old – vocals, Stevie Janevski – guitars, Gilbert Annese – drums and Anthony Wong – bass – that were formed in Melbourne, Australia back in 2014 and have released four albums to date – Wrong Things Right (2014), Heaven Or Heartbreak (2015), Outside Looking In (2016) and Unstoppable (2017). The band names bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Night Ranger, Winger and Danger Danger as musical influences which gives away in what genre this band plays in. When the band now releases album #5, they produced it themselves but it brings on a Danger Danger connection as Paul Laine mixed it and Bruno Ravel mastered it. I have no clue what to expect here but since I have seen their name everywhere, I’m very curious of how they sound. And if they’re any good.

They open the album on a really good note with “Hold On Tight”, a pretty raunchy rocker in the vein of late 80’s American Stadium Rock. It’s upbeat, groovy and holds a good party vibe – Melodic Rock with a crunch and a big refrain that sticks after one listen. Very good. “Believe In Me” is a pretty glossy and smooth Melodic Rock tune, very Pop-laden and a big Bon Jovi influence. The chorus is pure AOR and catchy as can be – a great tune. “Should Have Listened To My Heart” is a straight-forward, full-on late 80’s Arena Rock tune that sounds exactly like the hits of the 80’s did – big chorus, big vocals and a big Pop vibe. Very good. “As Long As You Want Me” is a mid-paced stadium rocker that borders to a power ballad. It’s sticky, smooth, pink n’ fluffy and full-blown AOR with a sugar-sticky refrain that’s impossible to get out of the head once it’s there. It’s the latest single and there’s no wondering why. Good stuff.

“Out Of This World” is a Melodic Rock tune that holds an enormous influence from Scandinavian AOR. I’m not gonna say that the song is bad because it’s not. It’s just that I have heard this (type of) song too many times and in so many better versions. To me it’s a typical standard AOR tune. A throwaway song. The same goes for “Miss Wonderful”. It’s a smooth, silky and very streamlined AOR half-ballad with a syrupy chorus – cheesiness deluxe. I find it quite mediocre and the tune goes nowhere. “Have You Got What It Takes” is more muscular and guitar-driven and raunchier than the previous songs but it still holds a quite slick arrangement. It’s groovy in a Hard Rock way and the chorus is catchy as hell. This is how I like my AOR, a bit rowdy with an edge – very good. “I Do Not Want To See You Cry” comes in a faster pace and is pretty straight-forward AOR-rocker with a nice groove. It’s an ok song but it just won’t stick with me.

Straight-forward is also “Hearts On Fire”, a song that blends Hard Rock and AOR and the mid 80’s vibe is all over the track. The refrain catches on right on the spot but as a whole, the tune feels pretty standard and doesn’t really move me. The title track brings on a sound that screams 1989 even though the very Pop chorus draws more towards plain AOR. It holds a groovy beat and the poppy refrain really sticks – the more I hear this song, the more I like it. “Five Years After” is an AOR/Pop/Rock tune that’s so sweet, sticky and sugary, I almost catch diabetes. Sure, it’s not possible to not hum along to the insanely catchy refrain and parts of me likes it but it’s way too slick. Not bad, though. Closing track “Standing Tall United” is heavier, more straight-forward and in-your-face and holds an uptempo pace. Still, it’s full of smooth melodies and a refrain that seems to be written with glue. Again, I like my AOR more edgy and this is one of those songs – very good.

To sum this up, this is an uneven effort. After the four first songs my hope that this would be an AOR killer rose fast but after those, I was taken back to earth pretty quick. I have never cared about originality as long as I get killer songs and a good sound and it’s right there where the album falters some. For starters, I think the production is too light-weight. It’s dry, flat, thin and at times it even sounds demo-ish. The lack of edge and heaviness also brings down the listening experience and it makes me wonder what their earlier albums sound like. But even though I find this record too mainstream and streamlined, I’m not gonna slag it because there are some damn good song on here which proves that they have a lot of potential. The decision to produce the record themselves might not have been the best decision – maybe an outside producer could do the trick for the next record?

5/10

Tracklist:

1. Hold On Tight
2. Believe In Me
3. Should Have Listened To My Heart
4. As Long As You Want Me
5. Out Of This World
6. Miss Wonderful
7. Have You Got What It Takes
8. I Do Not Want To See You Cry
9. Hearts On Fire
10. Beautiful Secret
11. Five Years After
12. Standing Tall United

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