…trapped inside the limitations of the genre?
Review by Brian McGowan
Release date: 19 September 2014
The luminosity of WOA‘s sound on their much acclaimed debut has dulled rapidly, if we are to judge by third album, Framework. For all that this new release is solidly constructed and elegantly contoured, it is treading water, drowning not waving. The band’s comparison to Toto, now expanded to include Mark Free, Martin Page and Boz Scaggs, should have been liberating. Instead it is now a weight on their shoulders.
They move up the gears slickly and quickly through opening tracks ‘Time To Let Go’ and ‘How Will I Know’, and these are passable, if generic, melodic rock songs, but any aficionado will hear the machinery of genre droning in the background. Its low, arduous hum masked by the trio’s outstanding musicianship and studio production polish.
It’s often argued that just because you’re joining the dots, a pretty picture is not precluded. ‘How Do You Sleep At Night’ and ‘Over The Line’ lend the lie to that notion. Built on flimsy tunes and Eighties’ allusions, they surprisingly suggest that Safsund and Sall may well have an ear for the finer points of AOR, but have little grasp of the essentials.
That said, there are strong, resonating echoes of that remarkably compelling debut in two tracks that sit side by side later in the album, ‘Hold Onto Love’ and ‘Natalie’. Where melodic rock habitually allows sentimentality to subvert true sentiment, both these songs have a ring of authenticity and an appealing romantic glow, genuinely sparkling where other tracks can barely simmer.
Two further tracks rise above the ordinary. ‘Turning Point’s deceptive simplicity is gilded by an inviting hook, and ‘Shout Till You Wake Up’s elaborately layered progressive touches cut through the sterility elsewhere. But you can’t help but feel shortchanged by a band who promised and delivered so much with their earlier material. Maybe they find themselves trapped inside the limitations of the genre.
5 out of 10
- Time To Let Go
- How Will I Know
- Shout Till You Wake Up
- Can’t Let Go
- How Do You Sleep At Night
- Over The Line
- The Machine
- Hold Onto Love
- Turning Point
- My Waking Dream