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FM - Synchronized

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 30 June 2020, 10:04 AM

FM formed in London, England in 1984. For the next 12 years they consolidated their position at the forefront of British melodic rock, touring with the likes of FOREIGNER, GARY MOORE, and BON JOVI on their "Slippery When Wet" tour to promote releases such as their 1986 debut “Indecreet”, 1989's “Tough it Out” album, “Takin’ it to the Streets” released in 1991, “Aphrodesiac” in 1992 and their 'final' album 1995's “Dead Man’s Shoes.”. In 2007 FM were persuaded to return to the stage for a 'one-off' headline performance at Firefest IV at Nottingham Rock City. The rapturous reception they received from the fans led to FM making the decision to record a new album and in March 2010 they released their much-anticipated sixth studio album “Metropolis.” 2020 brings the release of the band’s 12th studio album titled “Synchronized,” which contains twelve tracks.

The title track leads us off. It’s a mid-tempo number and as I was afraid with a band being around as long as they have…it sounds uninspired. The guitar solo is spot on and they are a great group of musicians, but it appears they have lost that songwriting magic that inevitably occurs with the passage of time. “Superstar” however is much better. The tender vocals and charming melodies come through here just fine. The chorus is as smooth as warm butter. “Best of Times” is another mid-temp song that opens with clean acoustical guitars and the tender vocals of Overland. When he stretches out, he can really hit some high notes. “Ghost of You and I” features programming percussion and dual vocal harmonies. It’s a bit of a power ballad but without that big punch.

“Broken” features keys more prominently, and this is the song I have been waiting for…a rich, strong AOR sound that moves with a bit of a groovy swing. The guitar solo is done with a nice touch…following the melody line so well. “Change for the Better” has a nice, mellow groove to it, with easy listening tones, while Overland really pours his soul into this track. Once again, the lead guitar just reinforces the sound. “End of Days” opens with spoken words and organ notes, talking about “you are fake news.” I’m unsure of the message here but the music is well done, with a note of melancholy, which is to be expected due to the title.

“Pray” has a bit of a gospel type sound in the opening, and then it drips with bluesy undertones. The keys are done old school and the backing vocals are turned up, giving it a full sound. “Walk through the Fire” opens with heavy keyboard notes, and I like the sound so far. It leads to some vocals, and then the guitars come in at the chorus. It’s not a bad sound, but again just sounds a bit uninspired. “Hell or High Water” has a nice, positive sound to it. But it’s yet another mid-tempo song. Too many of these have effectively killed the album. It makes one or two songs hard to stand out, because one just sort of runs into the other. “Angels Cried” is the longest on the album, at over six minutes in length. It opens slowly and easily, with acoustic guitars and piano. This time, you can feel the band’s soul, in both the vocals and the music.

“Ready for me” closes the album. Unfortunately, it’s another uninspired song with used riffs and a trite, overused sound. I really had to ask myself if I listened to this album with an open, objectiveness. I’ve heard far too many AOR albums lately that just have this same sound. There were three or four really strong tracks, but the rest of the album just fell flat. The musicians are obviously talented, but being around since the 80’s, you cannot reasonably expect them to still have that same magic that they always have. This is their 12th album. Over time, bands just lose some creativity, and that is what happened here. It’s not a bad album, but it’s not good at the same time.

Songwriting: 4
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 2
Production: 8

2 Star Rating

1. Synchronized
2. Superstar
3. Best of Times
4. Ghost of You and I
5. Broken
6. Change for the Better
7. End of Days
8. Pray
9. Walk through the Fire
10. Hell of High Water
11. Angels Cried
12. Ready for Me
Steve Overland – Vocals and Guitars
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass Guitar
Pete Jupp – Drums
Jem Davis – Keyboards
Jim Kirkpatrick – Guitars
Record Label: Frontiers Music


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