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Melodic Rock Round-up: September 2014

Album Review

Dave Ling on new releases from Work Of Art, Houston, Miss Behaviour, Loverboy and State Of Salazar

Work Of Art: Framework

It’s intriguing to note that four of this month’s key releases come from Swedish acts, but the fact remains that today’s Scandinavian bands play melodic hard rock better than just about anyone else. And Work Of Art sit right at the top of the pile. Maybe it’s because, unlike their rivals, they gently stir the pot and allow the ingredients to marinade in their own juices. Framework is the trio’s third album, coming three years after the critically acclaimed In Progress. Since then the band have played live, notably at Firefest in 2012, and begun to take baby steps away from the groups that inspired them – Toto, principally. However, like Lukather and company, WOA have that muso quality absent in so many carbon-copy acts. As much as the listener is left gasping at the band’s musical skill and the superlative voice of Lars Säfsund, Time To let Go, Over The Line and Natalie are driven by the type of flexible, easy groove that serious players alone can command. Work of Art make AOR look like child’s play. If they keep us waiting until 2017 for a fourth album, let’s not complain, eh? (9/10)

Houston: Relaunch II 

The sequel to 2011’s Relaunch pools four brand new Houston originals with six of the Swedish group’s favourite covers, including material by John Farnham, Rick Springfield and, erm, Lady Gaga. There’s also a version of Love Is Blind, which appeared on Uriah Heep’s Head First album. It’s entertaining enough, though less than essential. (6/10)

Miss Behaviour: Double Agent

Having mourned the loss of their manager Michael Sundén who died in April 2013, Swedes Miss Behaviour crank up the guitars, break out the hooks and get on with life again. The title track and Magical Feeling are as accomplished and hummable as anything from previous release Last Woman Standing, which was among the very best melodic hard-rock records of 2011. (8/10)

Loverboy: Unfinished Business

As a hotchpotch of previously recorded and abandoned material, this album might seem like it’ll be a bit of a turkey. However, the Canadians scarcely put a foot wrong and highlights such as Fire Me Up, Makes You So Special and You Play The Star underline their credentials as great songwriters. (7/10)

State Of Salazar: All The Way

Four years ago, a bunch of students from Malmö’s Academy Of Music were harbouring dreams of becoming an arena rock group. With a style that’s been nurtured by the likes of Toto, Survivor, Journey and Balance, and coloured by a flourish of Queen-esque drama, this vibrant debut album from State of Salazar fosters hopes of a very bright future indeed. (7/10)

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