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Osukaru - Starbound

by Chris Hicklin at 06 December 2021, 10:52 AM

I must admit, I have not heard of OSUKARU, despite now being on their sixth full length release with “Starbound” the Swedish act have somehow flown under my radar, indeed they seem to be little known in my native UK at all. As a shameless, chest-baring, bandana-sporting Glam Rock outfit, the band could hardly be accused of pioneering their sound or style, but there is a credibility here, and a truly joyful celebration of all that is Hard Rock by a group of musicians with a laser accurate idea of what they are trying to achieve.

Sending us forth on our sonic journey is album opener and title track “Starbound” and based purely on the expectations set by the band’s slightly lascivious promotional shots, the music is heavier and more serious than expected, this band is no POISON. As you might imagine, it leans heavily on dexterous guitar leads and traditional verse/chorus/bridge mainstream song writing, when creating radio-friendly songs in the three-to-four-minute range, there is little room for fanciful detours. Fredrik Werner’s vocals are earnest and robust; his backing vocals are assembled with clinical precision. “Rise of the Underdog” moves things in a slightly different direction with an edgy Metal style guitar riff on the verses, but the choruses still have that pristine pop feel with immaculate DEF LEPPARD style harmonies.

Tainted Heart” is a standard mid-tempo hand clapping affair, although energised by a nice guitar solo. Moving quickly on the band prove themselves just as adept at the art of the ballad as they have at the art of the pop song, as Werner continues to channel Joe Elliott through “Somewhere Sometime Somehow”, while the guitars take on the familiar plod of WHITESNAKE’SHere I Go Again” and a timely Sax solo soothe the ears, this is utterly derivative, and yet completely authentic 24 carat cheese. The band understands not only how to write in this style, but crucially how to produce in this very recognisable and dateable style. It’s as though they had Mutt Lange on speed dial, although we all know they could not afford that. I’m not saying the recording quality is as good as that, it isn’t, but there is certainly a knowledge of how to achieve the various guitar tones and drum sounds that characterise that style of production.

There’s a curious lack of cowbell on “Joker (In the House of Cards)”, you know it should be there, but it just isn’t. It matters not though as it is such a cowbell track you hear it anyway, as the tersely named CD’s pounding snare takes centre stage. The riffs take a break for a nice bluesy refrain part way through, followed up by another blistering guitar solo from band founder and leader Oz Hawe Petersson.

Go For the Legends” is just dying to be set to a movie montage of someone training for the fight of their lives. It is pure Stan Bush style Hollywood at its corny best, saturated with rousing twin guitar solos, and uplifting key changes. Werber’s voice stretches out beautifully on this track, it has a raspy quality that works excellently over the much cleaner backing harmonies. The same can be said for “On the Streets Again,” in which Olof Gadd’s bass thunders along like a train in the verses, with a super sing-along chorus.

There’s just time for another keyboard laden slice of schmaltz in “Within the Depths of Love”, as heartfelt a ballad as you are likely to hear, with the pure audacity to fade out instead of ending properly, ahh the 80s. What a time. That brings us to the album’s final offering “All Up” a gosh darned thoroughly middle of the road foot stomper, but again dripping with stirring guitar solos and passionate warbling.

I enjoyed this album a lot, it will not win any awards for originality, but it positively is not trying to. The production values are a little low, probably simply a matter of budget, but the song writing ideas are there in spades and the musicianship is excellent at all points. It left me with a smile, and if you knew me, you’d know that is an achievement.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Starbound
2. Rise of the Underdog
3. Tainted Heart
4. Somewhere Sometime Somehow
5. Joker (In the House of Cards)
6. Go for the Legends
7. Shut It Out
8. On the Streets Again
9. Within the Depths of Love
10. All Up
Oz Hawe Petersson - Guitars
Fredrik Werner - Vocals, Guitars
Olof Gadd - Bass
CD – Drums
Record Label: AOR Heaven


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Edited 16 January 2022

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