For some reason, in the year of 2018, a time when people have been saying that the record format is dead, that people just don’t buy music anymore and that there’s no money what so ever to be made in making music, it seems like there’s an endless stream of new albums coming out. And it’s not only by old dawgs that don’t know how to do anything else, no, there are shitloads of albums by new bands coming out – both by young musicians that wants to give it a go and older men and women that haven’t been active in ages. I like that. No, I love that. The fact that the quality is sky-high on many of those album makes it only better. One band that have just released their debut album is Perfect Plan, a five-piece that hails from northern Sweden – a bunch of dudes that couldn’t be called youngsters even if you wanted to. Originally, 4/5 of Perfect Plan were in Europe tribute band called 7 Doors Hotel but the guys weren’t content with only doing that so they decided it was time to record some original material as well.
So in 2016, the guys – guitarist Rolf Nordström, bassist P.O. Sedin, drummer Fredrik Forsberg and keyboarder Leif Ehlin – and singer Kent Hilli went to work. As it turned out, drummer Forsberg played in another cover band and the singer in that band was a guy named Robin Ericsson who also sings in Swedish Melodic Rock band Degreed. Ericsson got to hear what Perfect Plan had recorded, got hooked on it and since Degreed are on Frontiers records, Ericsson passed the Perfect Plan demo over to them and the band got signed right away. That’s how a bunch of middle-aged guys get a record contract and get to release their debut album. Now, the fact that they are middle-aged, have families and jobs is the reason for the album taking two years to complete. I’m sure it was worth the wait for the guys but is the album anything to write home about for the rest of us, then? We’ll just have to listen and see, I guess.
Well, opening track “Bad City Woman” told me that this album is probably something to write home about. And then some! It’s an uptempo, in-your-face Melodic Rock / AOR track that comes with a good punch. The whole thing is highly memorable but it’s the brilliant chorus that brings the tune on a homerun. How awesome! Second track and first single is called “In And Out Of Love” and is a smoother kind of AOR-rocker in a mid pace. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Alien and the gorgeous arrangement just takes over completely. Add a refrain so catchy that I start to laugh by myself. This is ridiculously good. If this tune had been released in the 80’s, these guys would have been millionaires now. I say it should be a massive hit in 2018 as well! “Stone Cold Lover” roughen things up a bit. It’s still Melodic Rock but the Metal influenced riffing brings 80’s Hard Rock to mind. It’s very melodic yet gutsy and the chorus hits right where it should. Killer!!!
Three songs in and i begin to wonder what these guys have been doing for all these years. Biding their time? “Gone Too Far” continues the high quality melody fest. It’s also in mid pace albeit a bit heavier where the 70’s Deep Purple and Rainbow comes up for air. But like a warm blanket, the Melodic Rock and AOR-ish melodies lies and they provide us with another crystal clear refrain that is impossible to escape. Amazing! “What Goes Around” is a more groove-laden rocker with lots of catchy riffing and a Hammond that comes in to kick up some dust. A pretty raunchy Melodic Rock tune with another one of those brilliantly catchy choruses. A damn good song! “Too Late” is a pretty groovy AOR tune with a whole lot of Rock in it. The sound holds a big 80’s Europe vibe but Giant also comes to mind here. The refrain is very close to both sugar and syrup but its intensity and amazing hooks makes it a winner without me getting diabetes from it. Great!
More pure AOR comes along with “Can’t Turn Back”, an uptempo, smooth sounding Pop tune with a Rock vibe that brings both Toto and Foreigner to mind. They do a brilliant job giving us a chorus that will stick in your mind even if you hate it – which is, of course, impossible and the tune sticks after the first listen – very, very good. “Never Surrender” might have a title suggesting it’s a Metal track (Saxon and Triumph anyone?) but it’s pretty far from that – this one’s a more slick and polished AOR tune. It’s still upbeat but also very pink n’ fluffy and the fact that it never goes cheese is actually pretty strange. The song brings on a refrain that’s so catchy it’s impossible not to surrender to. A great song with huge hit-potential. Next single? “1985” is a fun-song, a party swinger in the Melodic Rock vein that sure brings on a good party spirit. It’s very big on catchy riffs and the keyboards leans more towards organ than synthesizer and it holds a killer groove. The lyrics might be on the cheesier side but what the heck, this stuff makes me smile and it’s a good song so thumbs up, I say!
When the album is starting to come to an end and song after song tells me that these guys have something really big on their hands, I think that something’s gotta give sometime, a weak tune must come along at some point. Could the next tune “What Can I Do” be that song? Well, no it’s not. What it is is a big grooved rocker that lands somewhere in between Melodic Rock and Classic Rock, kind of Treat meets FM with a slice of Whitesnake here and there – and it’s a damn good tune. Closing track “Heaven In Your Eyes” on the other hand is a full-blown AOR number with lots of Pop influences, big on the keyboards and so many hooks that they could sell them and become wealthy because of it. This is another one of those tracks that’s super-glue sticky, a song AOR lovers would want to marry. To me, this is a perfect closer on a damn good record like this.
While Perfect Plan hasn’t invented the wheel once again – but does stuff like that really matter? – it’s pretty clear that a lot of passion, love and desire was a big part of making this album. You can hear it for miles how much they love this and add to the fact that these guys are very talented when it comes to song writing, arrangements and production. It also stands clear that they’re all solid musicians and that Hilli is a brilliant singer that lands somewhere around Jimi Jamison (Survivor) and the fact that they put bands like Giant, Foreigner, Europe and Journey as their influences speaks volumes for how this album sounds. What also makes this album a great listen is the variation – Melodic Rock, AOR and Classic Rock in a fine mix where traditional Hard Rock also has its place. What’s a bit remarkable, though, is that we don’t get a power ballad. On a Melodic Rock album! I’m a sucker for a good power ballad but I actually find that refreshing. For lovers of Hard Rock side, this album is a must. Don’t miss!
1. Bad City Woman
2. In And Out Of Love
3. Stone Cold Lover
4. Gone Too Far
5. What Goes Around
6. Too Late
7. Can’t Turn Back
8. Never Surrender
10. What Can I Do
11. Heaven In Your Eyes