I always have an apprehension of new albums from bands I like who have been around since the ‘80s and have produced memorable and iconic tunes. Can they still be current in today’s music climate? FM are one of those bands.
After splitting in the mid ‘90s the band reformed after 12 years with guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick joining the line-up of Steve Overland, Merv Goldsworthy, Pete Jupp and Jem Davis.
Atomic Generation is the 11th studio album from the band so the apprehension should have abated but it is always a nail-biting moment when you first press play on the new one.
‘Black Magic’ has received extensive airplay since it was released as a single and this was a taster of what was to come. So much of the FM vibe with the gang chants and explosions of music and melody are there, to the extent that I haven’t got this track out of my head since I first heard it. A groove to the bass, powerful rhythmic drumming, soaring riffs, layers of vocals and an overall sound which has identified the band since their very first album.
‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ is a blend of emotional lyrics being driven by pace and key changes, tight harmonies, and seriously soaring riffs. A song which will be a fan favourite from the outset. ‘Killed By Love’ with its fabulous dual guitar riffs are an integral part of the FM sound, and this track has it all from the riffage to the ‘Yeah-Yeah -Yeah’s’ together with steady rhythmic drum beats and a trademark big chorus, it’s an ear wormer.
‘In It For The Money’ is heavier on the musical front where the complexity of the guitars, keys and drums give a cohesive melting pot of magical melodic rock. A stand out guitar solo takes the track to a heady height. ‘Golden Days’ is clever. The music has masses of American rock vibes, echoing back to the ‘80s but with enough in the lyrics and melody to bounce it back firmly to today. Some of the lyrics could be classed as cheesy but when Steve sings them and the flow of the tempo thuds away, adding to the solid production of the track it becomes another good new song.
‘Playing Tricks On Me’ is an interesting direction for FM. It has such an underlying funky groove to the bassline and the guitar licks have Santana’s latin influences winding through them. Add horns into the mix with a ridiculously catchy chorus and you can’t sit still.
‘Make The Best Of What You Got’ has such a classic FM feel to the song with tight harmonies and nifty guitar work. Clear soaring riffs and a repetitive chorus add to the delivery of another track full of energy, with a melodic rock stamp running all the way through it.
A guitar intro filled out quickly with keys, big beats, rumbling bassline and more melodic harmonies describe ‘Follow Your Heart’. Steve’s voice lifting and soaring the way only he can. Dirtier riffs and lone keys add drama to the track, all the time it is unmistakable, it’s big, it’s dramatic, its FM.
‘Do You Love Me Enough’ is a very nice rework of an old FM track which appeared on the 2004 Future Miracles album by The Ladder (A band which included Overland and Jupp). It’s stunningly catchy, packed with understated riffs and with an orchestral fullness to the track, which then fades out with the keys. A keyboard intro marks the start of ‘Stronger’. A solid beat and hard blues rich riffs push the song again towards the bands heavier side. But then you get the vocal lithely bringing the melody above the music, slightly harder in its edge, which complements the guitar sound, and rumbling low end.
An acoustic opening to the very beautiful ballad ‘Love Is The Law’. This is why Overland is known as ‘the voice’. Goosebumps… but it isn’t just the voice, it is the lightness of the music, the sliding of the riffs, flowing through enhancing the lyricism of the words. I do hope this one is on the set list for the upcoming tour.
Obviously, FM are not yet consigned to the history of AOR rock bands, but longevity can only be achieved by producing good new music. This album is multi-dimensional, erring on hard rock, blues, lighter AOR, so many styles and complexities which give a depth to the music and a freshness to the feel of the songs, but all the time retaining that illustrious FM sound and giving them a validity in 2018.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Killed By Love
In It For The Money
Playing Tricks On Me
Make The Best Of What You Got
Follow Your Heart
Do You Love Me Enough
Love Is The Law
Steve Overland - Vocals, guitar
Pete Jupp - Drums
Merv Goldsworthy - Bass
Jim Kirkpatrick - Guitar
Jem Davis - Keyboards