In a perfect world, melodic rock fans would not have had to wait 20 years for a Strangeways reunion. I'm sure that's what Firefest fans we were thinking when it was announced that the legendary 80's band would reunite with American singer Terry Brock for a performance and a new album. But the hype and the legend can make strange bedfellows. How do you improve upon the now classic Native Sons (1989) which Kerrang called "the greatest and most preciously perfect AOR album of all time." So here we have Perfect World. Take a deep breath before the plunge.
Honestly, Perfect World will not upset Native Sons as Strangeways' epic best effort. Nonetheless, it is a good work, even it seems curiously mild. Time, Can't Let You Go, Too Far Gone, and the lengthy Bushfire are inspired but quite mellow AOR offerings. Brock sounds passionate over and alongside wonderful vocal harmonies, and the band perfroms with genuine expertise. Yet, if your mood is less glad, more sullen, you might find yourself dragged down. Not that Strangeways can't kick it up a bit as the opener Perfect World is a rocker, but could be easily skipped. Liberty, though not quite the full-blown rocker, has a more infectious liveliness to it.
Genuine inspiration comes, however, on three very good tracks: Borderlines, Time and Movin' On. Borderlines reminds of a modern Eagles with the psuedo California southern rock sound. Time relives the beauty of Strangeways best vocal harmonies over a soaring ballad framework. And Movin' On has a smokey, sweaty, groove that fully captures your sonic imagination. It's easily the best track on the album and, if anything, the single best reason why we should be glad to have Srangeways back.
While Perfect World is a welcome come back, it still seems unnecessarily reserved, even tame. Ultimately, I wondered if Perfect World wasn't merely another vehicle for Terry Brock's impressive vocal talents: Diamond Blue Part II. Regardless, though Strangeways' Perfect World doen't exactly live up to the hype, it's a a better than average album proving that Strageways may still have the strength to be an AOR melodic rock powerhouse.
Though Strangeways' Perfect World doen't exactly live up to the hype, it's a darn fine album that proves that Strangeways can still be a melodic rock powerhouse.
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