Unruly Child‘s original 3 amigos, Marcie Free (vocals), Bruce Gowdy (guitar) and Guy Allison (Keyboards) are back together. On Big Blue World their reductive re-imagining of 80’s AOR retains just enough of the past to cheer their core fanbase, while cutting across several genres, on this deftly contructed, post millenium melodic rock album.
The tracks are stylistically bold, and the arrangements restlessly inventive. Naturally, the album is front loaded with the more immediate material, ‘Dirty Little Girl’ and ‘All Over The World’ are stuffed with wiry, hard rock guitars, radiant bursts of high impact harmonies and memorably melodic hooks. ‘Are These Words Enough’ sees them shining a melodic rock torch on Boz Scagg’s blue eyed soul, and unsurprisingly, some of the keyboard textures and shadings on opener, ‘Living In Someone Else’s Dream’ could have been lifted from Jascha Richter’s 2002 album, Planet Blue. There’s more to this track … it’s expansive, it suggests they possess the musical ambition that Toto displayed back in the 80s… complex, rewarding arrangements that show up too on ‘Will We Give Up Today’, deeply romantic and fabulously melodic. Like they’ve taken a myriad fragments and stitched them together into lushly arranged song size chunks. They’re dabbling entertainingly with the Unruly Child DNA, but the blueprint remains intact.
Elsewhere, ‘The Hard Way’ is a relentlessly pulsating little anthem, punctuated by an urgent keyboard riff; ‘Down & Dirty’ has the best line of lyrics … “This ain’t no somebody done somebody wrong song”, and ‘Beneath A Steady Rain’ is the album’s standout track by a considerable distance. In it, you can hear their desire to spin something exotic, clearly drawn from their youthful encounters with classical music, show tunes, The Beach Boys, Riz Ortolani and Queen, creating this six minute rock’n’roll concerto. It’s a genuine milestone in the band’s remorseless pursuit of that awesome emotional moment, where rock music transcends its genre limitations, and becomes something else.
A Top Five Albums Of The Year contender (if we still did that), no question.
- Living In Someone Else’s Dream
- All Over The World
- Dirty Little Girl
- Breaking The Chains
- Are These Words Enough
- Will We Give Up Today
- Beneath A Steady Rain
- The Harder They Will Fall
- Down & Dirty
- The Hard Way