Never was an album title so apt! Doug Brons is an American singer/songwriter, a purveyor of the slickest AOR/Yacht Rock hybrids I’ve heard in a fair old while, and Audio 1985 really does sound like a sonic artefact from the titular year of 1985…
Amazingly the first two tracks, Father Show Us and Do It For Love, manage to pull off an unlikely mix of Toto and Level 42, and this sets the tone for the rest of the album, which I’ve decided really should have been given a title like The Omartian Chronicles… did you see what I did there? (that’s enough jokes – Ed).
Brons is a devout Christian, and the upfront nature of some of his lyrics may turn off less spiritually-inclined AOR fans, but I’m a committed atheist and I managed to sit through them, and if you’re an eighties AOR buff it would be a shame to miss out on the top draw material on offer here just because you don’t share the artist’s beliefs… So just wallow in the parping synths, swooping solos and delicious vocals instead.
Brons as a vocalist is part David Paich and Joseph Williams, with added soupcons of John Elefante and Michael McDonald. Those are pretty big names to brush up against, but on the likes of the superbly dramatic Look Up, which mixes Mastedon and Chicago with pyrotechnic results, he delivers the goods in exuberant style, backed by some startlingly good lead work from Tom Hemby.
Not The Only One, slightly cheap production aside, wouldn’t sound out of place on a late-period Toto album, which is very high praise indeed in this reviewer’s books, and the fact here is that Brons exhibits himself as an incredibly accomplished songwriter and musician on this album. Standout cut Again is nerve-janglingly good, building the drama through layers of keyboard orchestration and excitement-laden powerchords until you feel ready to burst with the majesty of it all.
The artist declares this album to be a tribute to the glory days of his emergence as a musical being (1985, I’m guessing), and if that was indeed the aim of this record then it is an unmitigated success. Not so much Brons as Gold, in fact…
Audio 1985 is out now.