Review by Woody
Sweden’s Degreed return with their second album We Don’t Belong. Back on board from the debut is producer Erik Lidbom who also contributes to the song writing including a couple of co-writes with Bill Champlin of Chicago fame.
I liked their debut album Life, Love, Loss but I love We Don’t Belong. This opus sees Degreed really kick it up a notch and give us a damn fine Next Gen melodic rock album. The songs all combine elements of AOR and melodic rock such as upfront keyboards, lush harmonies and big ass choruses, but with a more contemporary and modern sound. At ten tracks long we are given a solid no filler album touching near perfect status. It’s very strong lyrically too; it does cover the sort of subject matter you’d expect from a melodic rock album, but it’s never cheesy and avoids clichés. There are some great lyrics here and it’s great to see some songwriter’s actively trying to make something relatable and avoiding the usual melodic rock pitfalls.
Vocalist Robin Ericsson’s style is gritty and powerful and above all, emotive, his voice giving some of the beautiful and atmospheric songs on We Don’t Belong an intensely emotional presence and he sets the bar high on the epic title track ‘We Don’t Belong’, ‘What If’ and ‘Inside of Me’. Modern rock tends to entail the omission of keyboards but not with these guys and Micke Jansson’s keys are lavishly layered through every song. The heavy use of keyboards is a really strong part of the album for me with some extremely infectious moments and some killer hooks.
Guitarist’s Jesper Adefelt and Daniel Johansson are melodic guitar geniuses. The album does have some heavy moments, most notably on opening cut ‘Black Cat’, but it’s the highly melodic guitar licks and riffs that grab the attention and these guys prove you can be modern without going heavy and still play intricately beautiful guitar pieces.
I have to highlight my current favourite song as I’m totally addicted to it ‘Blind Hearted’. A powerful song with an angst fuelled sing along chorus, I love the lyrics and it’s a really emotive track, Catchy as hell an absolutely killer song!
We Don’t Belong is a near perfect slice of modern melodic rock which proves the future of the genre is very healthy. I was totally blown away by it and can’t stop playing it; I could get really fanatical about these guys. All these songs are engulfed with vocal harmonies and intensely enjoyable melodies along with killer keyboard and melodic guitar licks, surely making this one of the albums of the year. If you’re into melodic rock and AOR but want something that doesn’t feel dated, check this one out because Degreed have brought AOR bang up to date in all its delicious melodic glory. This is truly something special.
10 out of 10
- Black Cat
- What If
- In For The Ride
- Inside Of Me
- Follow Her Home
- Blind Hearted
- Here I Am
- Access Denied
- Coming Home
- We Don’t Belong