by Tim Durling
Label: Open E
Wow, am I ever impressed with this album. I've been a casual Extreme fan (oxymoron!) for years, but this album is blowing me away. First new album since 1995's disappointing Waiting For The Punchline.
1)Star - Flange-y Queen-esque harmonies kick this bluesy rocker off, a commentary on "famous for being famous" people, much like "Hip Today." After some tasteful bluesy soloing, King Nuno reminds us of why he was on all those guitar mags back in the day.
2)Comfortably Dumb - No, not a Pink Floyd tribute, this songs grooves like a motherfucker, plain and simple. I can not sit still listening to this one. Might be my fave on the album.
3)Learn To Love - A tense, groove-oriented yet very melodic number, almost like some of the better moments on the Gary Cherone-vocalized disaster known as Van Halen 3. Gary sounds fantastic here.
4)Take Us Alive - Extreme goes country? No, don't panic, it's ok. A fast-paced, lighthearted little jig not unlike (ironically enough) Van Halen would have done in the Women & Children First or Diver Down daze.
5)Run - Another funky, laid-back riff, obviously an Extreme trademark. Kind of similiar to "Comfortably Dumb" but still a killer funk riff. The verses are reminiscent of David Bowie's "Fame." New drummer Kevin Figueiredo proves he belongs in the band on songs like this. He previously played with Nuno Bettencourt in the DramaGods. This song fades out with a very melodic coda. Another VH influence?
6)Last Hour - A little downbeat and depressing on this one. This blues tune isn't without merit though, a tour de force for Gary vocally.
7)Flower Man - Frantic, almost punky riffing snap us back into shape here. Don't know what the hell this song is about, but I bob my head in glee all the same.
8) King of the Ladies - Nuno takes the bulk of the vocals on this one, kind of an anthem for all of us late-bloomers. I dig it.
9)Ghost - First appearance of piano on this one, some falsetto vocals from Cherone, dare I say a more modern sounding tune. I'm not crazy about this song, but I have a theory. If Coldplay recorded this it would probably be a hit, but most radio stations probably wouldn't touch this because it's Extreme. But I'm not bitter.
10)Slide - Can you say Led Zeppelin? I knew ya could. This plays like an outtake from Physical Graffiti, but that's hardly a bad thing. This album does not sound like the work of a band that hasn't made an album in 13 years, and I should also mention Nuno produces the album with fine results. Bare bones but full sounding, and as usual the Extreme vocal harmonies are top notch.
11)Interface - This acoustic-based ballad was originally by Nuno's DramaGods project. It's really, really good, unlike "Ghost" this is a song which I believe could be a hit, and I do like it. Not sure, but I think this is a man singing to his computer screen. Great chorus.
12)Sunrise - Another heavy funker, long tune too. The chorus reminds me of the "sing with me" section of Aerosmith's "Dream On." Must be a Boston thing? Speaking of Boston, I'm kind of surprised this album didn't include "Rock & Roll Man," the band's tribute to Brad Delp.
13)Peace (Saudade) - Ah, so that's where the title comes from. A low-key, piano-based album closer.
I had little or no expectations about this album, and I like being wrong in this case. These guys were just too talented to fade away without at least one more album. Highly recommended.