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The Theander Expression - Strange Nostalgia Award winner

The Theander Expression
Strange Nostalgia
by Daniel Fox at 23 September 2013, 5:29 PM

Allow me to begin by saying how much of a step back I take when I listen to genres outside of metal, wherein I am capable of hearing the wonders that exist outside of my niche. AOR music, incredibly radio centric, is normally outside of my comfort zone; I unintentionally groomed myself into staying away from anything that could be remotely construed as mainstream. But alas, therein is the beauty of being a music reviewer. THE THEANDER EXPRESSION is a fresh AOR band out of Sweden, with heavy American Hard Rock and soft, melodic, radio centric, American sound. On their latest release, masterminded by the band's namesake, composer and producer, Andrée Theander, each of the 10 songs exhibit a toned-down brand of hard rock, infused with rich melodies presented by guitar and keyboards, and stellar vocal performances by the band's two singers, one of which I can easily compare to the voice of Tommy Karevik.

An album such as this is very much uncharted territory for me; I am used to big, fat, powerful albums, where individual tracks tell a grand story of their own. If I were to laze around on an easy Sunday, it would be very easy to have this work on repeat, and not pay too much mind to musical technicalities; that is the beauty of radio music; it is carefree and easy-listening. That is by no means saying that the songs themselves are basic and boring, however; although they all sound strongly similar, I cannot find one weak song, any qualms I may have about repetitiveness are drowned out. There are, however, some definite standouts: "Strange Nostalgia", for one, is my favorite on the album, because of the incredibly strong similarities to the aforementioned Karevik, also from Sweden, of KAMELOT and SEVENTH WONDER. This track, and the rest, showcases excellent soloist guitarist capabilities from the band's mastermind, Andrée Theander. "Mr. Know-It-All" features the same vocalist as on "Strange Nostalgia", and has an infectiously catchy chorus, reminiscent of 80s radio hits. This 80s feel is carried on instantaneously to "Masterpiece in the Dark", which proves that this band would find themselves hard-put to create a melodramatic song without it filling the listener with happy, feel-good vibes; this seems to be what the band is all about, and they do it brilliantly. Finally, "Champaigne Wishes and Caviar Dreams", the last of my selection of favorites on the album (perhaps because of its unusual length of 6 and a half minutes) features my favorite performance from their second vocalist, and an exceptionally technically brilliant guitar solo, and is a strong, dynamic song overall.

THE THEANDER EXPRESSION is a great reason for any underground-dwelling Metalhead to leave his or her comfort zone and to enjoy some bright and cheery music without caring for the amount of bass tapping solos, face-melting screams or bombastic blast beats, and I surprised myself  how much I enjoyed it. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the band calling them a delicious guilty pleasure of mine.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Conception of Life
2. Strange Nostalgia
3. Insanity Cell
4. Like a Chameleon
5. Sanguine
6. Feelings of Luxury
7. Mr. Know-It-All
8. Masterpiece in the Dark
9. Meet Me There Tonight
10. Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams
Lineup:
Andrée Theander - Guitars
Christian Hedgren - Vocals
Göran Edman - Vocals
Michael Ottosson - Keyboards
Linus Abrahamson - Bass
Herman Furin – Drums
Record Label: Avenue of Allies
     


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