FM Heroes & Villians
FM return with the follow up to 2013's Rockville 1 and 2 set and the first for their new label Frontiers who release the album on April the 17th in Europe and in North America on the 21st of April.
I have been lucky enough to have lived with Heroes And Villians for a number of weeks now and that gives it time to sink in and in my opinion FM have produced an album that could be the best of their career.
The question is always what does it sound like well FM obviously.All the trademark FM melodies,riffs and huge choruses are all present and correct and it is a continuation of the Rockville set with a wonderful production that lets everything breathe.
I played the album to a friend and we agreed it is the album the band should have released after Tough It Out.There are enough AOR leanings to placate the Indiscreet fans and lots of high tec rock songs that cry out to played on the radio.
All of the band are on top form.The rhythm team of Pete Jupp on drums and Merv Goldsworthy on bass keep it all ticking over with Merv's bass sound a really underpinning the album.Jem Davis on keyboards gives the album depth and his sound only adds to the album clarity without sounding as if it is stuck in the 80's.
Jim Kirkpatrick on guitars has given the band a huge kick up the bum since joining and he excels here.He has a great tone and knows when to add some extra guitar melodies where necessary and his soloing is always fluent and never just a flurry of notes always telling a story.
Steve Overland is as always just the greatest vocalist that this fair island has ever produced in my opinion that is!!On the rockier tracks he shows off a set of pipes and on the ballads wow.The hairs stand up on the back of my neck with a performance that he may never have matched.Perfect tone and melody the man has it all.
Opener Digging Up The Dirt licks the album off in style with Pete's drum rhythm starting it off and I love the way the band come in one at a time.Next it is a flicking riff in each speaker before Jim's hard stop start riff kicks in and then Merv's bass and Jem's keys join in and what a sound and that is before Steve even starts singing on a track that touches on celebrity and the press.Huge chorus and a superb Jim guitar solo that doesn't outstay it's welcome.
Your The Best Thing About Me is a mid tempo rocker with a huge multi layered chorus out of the Def Leppard book of choruses.Love the end of the chorus as Steve goes up a notch and finishes it on his own.
Life Is A Highway is a track that could have been taken from Indiscreet with its AOR style.A real summer song with the roof down with another multi layered chorus and a riff that embeds itself into your brain.The guitar solo from Jim again just adds to the vibe and some nice swirling keys under the main riff too.
Fire And Rain is a bluesy rocker which builds from slow beginnings into another track with a multi layered chorus and a some nice woah woahs added too.
Incredible is just that.An acoustic guitar led ballad with the most fantastic Steve vocal that would have been a huge video on MTV back in the day.If the vocal doesn't get to you then check your pulse as Steve shows his quality that few can match.Some added orchestration just adds to the depth of the music.Incredible sums it up really.
Call On Me ups the pace with a jabbing riff and all builds to a killer chorus and a slightly different style guitar solo with some nice bluesy leanings.
Cold Hearted was on the Futurama ep release last year and it's big riff,pounding drums and underpinned keys sound sit perfectly on the album with a fantastic chorus melody from Steve.Good use of light and shade in the verse when all of the band can be heard as it builds to the chorus.
Shape I'm In is an uptempo rocker with a song built for playing in the open air at festivals.One big riff is the mainstay of the song but again with the production being so good you can pick any member of the band as leading the song.Bubbling bass,driving drums and hammond all with Steve telling us it is the shape he is in.Must be played live.
Big Brother has a stop start guitar riff at its core that competes with Jem's key riff leading to a huge chorus and love the stabbing keys under Jim's guitar solo too. Lovely guitar melody at the end of the song.
Someday I Only Wanna Rock n'Roll does what it says on tin with the band having some fun on a song built to be played live.Upbeat bluesy with some great added guitar end keys melody thrown in for good measure.Added saxaphone in the outro.
I Want You is a bright and breezy rocker with a multi layered chorus and Merv's bass underpinning the chorus.Swathes of keys add to the mix and Jim's solo fits the song just perfectly.
Walking With Angels is simply wonderful.A picked acoustic guitar and Steve producing maybe the best vocal of his career.Orchestration and big backing vocals that shows that less can be more sometimes.Needs to be released as a single and played on every radio station in the world.Sure to be a live favourite and one of the best songs the band have ever recorded.
A fitting end to a magnificent album that needs to put FM in the bracket of one of the UK's finest bands ever.