The Nelson brothers don't need much introduction. In September 1991 they reached the height of the US single chart with their hit single Love And Affection. The accompanying album After The Rain sold over 4 million copies. A few more albums followed but neither came close to the succes of the first. The rise of the grunge movement pushed the band further down the popularity polls, and approaching the new century things became very quiet around the goodlooking twins.
But the current flow of comeback acts is not to be halted and Matthew and Gunnar figured it was time to ride the wave as well. Their phoenix is called Lighting Strikes Twice on Frontiers Records. The big question is the new album capable of reaching the same heights 20 years after Nelson’s memorable start. Without listening to the album, half that question is easy to answer. They will not sell the same numbers since the glory days of melodic rock are over. The music scene has changed so much over the last two decades that no melodic rock act will sell those numbers.
The other half of the question is equally easy to answer since Lighting Strikes Twice has been spinning round in my CD player for a few days now. My conclusion is with Lighting Strikes Twice, not only is the long hair gone but also the AOR flavor that colored After The Rain so beautifullly. The overall feeling is more ‘pop’ than rock; the keyboards are more subdued; a few tracks could even be considered classic rock. But the album does everything a decent melodic rock record needs to do. The 12 tracks are a bunch of fine songs, catchy as ever, well performed, and produced to perfection.
Nevertheless, I cannot escape the feeling that something is missing since Lighting Strikes Twice does not grab me like After The Rain did. It's hard to put my finger on it, but the record runs short of repeat-button moments, and pinpointing favourites is not easy. Overall, it seems dutiful, and I long for a few killer hooks or blistering eighties keyboard riffs. Even Steve Lukhater’s appearance on To Get Back To You cannot save it from mediocrity.
Commecially and musically this record is not going to eclipse its illustrous predecesor. On the other hand, the brothers prove with Lighting Strikes Twice that they are firmly back in business. Let's hope their next album is a follow up rather than a comeback. Something tells me that the 1991 spark is still there, but a 20 year spell is too long a wait.
Commecially and musically this record is not going to eclipse its illustrous predecesor. On the other hand, the Nelson brothers prove with Lighting Strikes Twice that they are firmly back in business.