Originally posted in Valkyrian Music.
I’m having serious mixed feelings about this… When they released the first single/video “Night On Fire” I formed my opinion carefully. After all, it was just one song, and despite making it to single, that doesn’t necessary mean that it represents the general sound of the album or that it’s the best song in it. Most times it’s just the catchiest, the most commercial. So after convincing myself that “Spirit” wouldn’t be all “ooooooh ooooooh” eighties-pop-rock style all the time and that it wouldn’t make me feel like I was in a distant paradisiacal island, at a beach party under the moon, “Night On Fire” didn’t sound so bad.
The next single, “So Happy I Could Die”, gave me some hope. Happy rock, colorful (literally, once you see the video…), sleazy all the way. Despite copying the “oh yeah” in the chorus from Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart”, the song is good enough that one can forgive them for such “plagiarism”. We can even see it as a tribute to the legendary band, although the real homage comes in the form of “I Love Heavy Metal”. Wait, heavy metal?! The idea of this song is actually super cool. They gathered song-titles of several bands they love for the verses, and then the pre-chorus was made of the bands’ names themselves. The thing is that listening to Olli Herman saying he “loves heavy metal, can’t get enough, can’t get enough” while referring to Poison, Bon Jove, Warrant, Winger, Aerosmith, Skid Row, Guns N’ Roses, Kiss, W.A.S.P. and so on… well, that’s a “bit” of a stretch. Okay, he mentions Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (Ozzy too, but he also had his own glam era), but as brilliant heavy metal bands as those are, they still don’t justify the title for this song. Plus, talking about the unconditional love for heavy metal at such a lazy cheesy rhythm… Joan Jett already took “I Love Rock’N’Roll” for herself, but it would still be a more suitable title. Terminologies apart, though, and precisely for featuring so many well-known names, the song ends up being quite fun to sing along and pleasant to listen to.
They seem somewhat obsessed with metal, as there’s another track, called “Metal Ass”. But I must say that this one is justified, the riffs and solo showing you why they mentioned Judas Priest in that other song. I believe it’s the heaviest track they’ve ever written.
After the heaviest, it makes sense that now I speak of the exact opposite: the mandatory ballads. “Edge Of Our Dreams” sounds familiar, although I can’t recall where from. Nevertheless, I like it pretty much. It’s not too slow, soft being a more accurate word, with a dreamlike vibe to match the lyrics. Now “Hot Rain”, that’s the typical heartbreaking love song, whose melody will pull out tears from a rock. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, it depends on each one’s personal taste. For me, it’s a bit too much.
And then, the in-betweens. “Bad Lovin’” kicks off with some rocky riffs, the drum beats in the middle of the chorus are pretty sharp, as well as the guitar solo. But the main structure is undoubtedly pop, too pop even for a glam rock band – which doesn’t mean that you won’t like it. Because “Favorite Flavor” is glam through and through, and yet it’s the weakest song in “Spirit”, in a “too-much-of-the-same” kind of way. Unlike “Sex, Drugs & Reckless Love”, whose Kiss–“Lick It Up”-influenced rhythm section in an otherwise pop rock song makes all the difference, not to mention the catchier chorus. As for “Dying To Live” and “Runaway Love”… yeah, easy-going pop songs. And “Die Hard”, although only who gets the UK release of the album is supposed to hear it. As for a worldwide bonus track, or at least countries where Spotify is available, there’s “Gone With A Smile”, with a main riff twin to the one Byan Adams wrote for “Run To You”.
So why the mixed feelings, you wonder. With so many “buts”, even in the best songs, I shouldn’t hesitate in rating “Spirit” as average. I would, if we were looking at it from a strict rock point of view. But this is Reckless Love. The flamboyant adjective they’re so fond of isn’t just about their looks, but their sound as well. And under that perspective, the abundance of mainstream melodies entwined with glam & sleaze elements becomes an asset. Under that perspective, this album is awesome.
Label: Spinefarm Records
Producer: Ilkka Wirtanen
- Night On Fire
- Bad Lovin’
- I Love Heavy Metal
- Favorite Flavor
- Edge Of Our Dreams
- Sex, Drugs & Reckless Love
- Dying To Live
- Metal Ass
- Runaway Love
- So Happy I Could Die
- Hot Rain
- Die Hard (UK bonus track) or Gone With A Smile (Spotify bonus track)