White Flame – Cougar


Review by Brian McGowan

Judging by the title and artwork of this, their third release, WF’s marketing team aim low. Just as well the music is of such a witheringly high standard.

‘Cougar’ sounds like it was assembled using all the best bits from the better Bon Jovi, Prince, Bonfire, Beatles and Aerosmith albums. Full of ripe pickings, yet still sounding like its sell-by-date is way in the future.

Chris (productions never knowingly underdone) Laney is at the studio helm. He’s given Melodic Rock’s glorious past a respectful nod, then taken up a more adventurous musical palate, densely packed with major colours, slamming the music into the here and now, scattering processed vocals and angular axe work into the mix.

‘Make Believe’ is the album’s pivotal track, where the band wade into the past keeping a firm hold on the present, waist deep in White Album psychedelic strings, aiming for a pop / rock grandeur that you just don’t hear now. Worth buying the cliché for.

It’s an album that simply pulsates with physical energy. WF go after the straight up rock tracks with all the ferocity of a junkyard dog. Torqued up axes bite and growl in a roaring race to an anthemic chorus, with memorable melodies and sharp hooks shoehorned into a busy mix.

The picks are probably the raunchy, raucous title track – listen to that cleverly orchestrated middle section – along with the soulful, funky ‘Used To Be A Girl’ and the swaggering ‘Right Back In’, where the words come tumbling out rapid-fire, punctuated by a tight, taut riff. But even the slower tempo material is tackled with verve and zest, giving the music an unstoppable momentum.

A gutsy cover of Roxette’s ‘The Look’ is beefed up by huge, clanging chords and a resounding rhythm section. It serves as a reminder that this talented but criminally underrated rock band still have one eye on the charts, and with some decent promotion that’s where they would be.

The Big Ballad, ’Stay’ is a towering chest beater, expanding with cello powered strings that swirl overhead till eventually moving on, leaving a ragged romantic in their wake. Yes, it’s been done before but never quite with this song’s poise and pathos nor with vocalist Vince’s raw passion. Another contender for album standout position.

Third time lucky for White Flame? They deserve it.

9 out of 10



Track Listing:

1. Get What’s Mine
2. I Know Where You Live
3. Make Believe
4. Cougar
5. What Girls Like
6. Used To Be a Girl
7. Right Back In
8. The Look
9. Stay
10. We Get It On
11. Gutted
12. The Question