The second song on Thirteen, the new album from enduring Brit rock veterans FM, Waiting On Love, is quite, quite remarkable. Quite simply, I haven’t heard a song as good as this in a long, long time. Bands as long in the tooth as Steve Overland and company usually fall one way or the other as their careers wend through the decades; they become nostalgia-ridden parodies of their former selves, or they forge ahead looking for new ground and fresh inspiration. And certainly, when you look at FM’s first two albums from ‘Back In The Day’, the titanic Indiscreet and Bad Luck, you can see that the band made a decision some time ago to step away from the Americanised style of those two records, preferring instead to hone a warm and bluesy, but very British take on the commercial hard rock template.
Which makes Waiting on Love all the more remarkable as the band roll back the years to around 1987 and a partial return to that old sound; not only do they do that – but they do it with such verve and style that you actually need to pinch yourself to believe you’ve not been bundled into some sort of time-travel device while you sleep, only to be deposited – in stonewashed denims and a satin dustcoat, obviously – back to the time when this sort of music ruled rock clubs up and down the nation. It’s giddy, life-affirming stuff as Steve Overland sings the absolute arse off of this wonderful song.
And they don’t stop there. Turn This Car Around is a breathtaking piece of sublime radio rock, built from the bottom up on Pete Jupp‘s peerless drumming and a spine tingling keyboard coda (sorry, I should probably have spelt that as koda) from Jem Davis. And Overland? I’m not kidding you when I say I don’t remember him sounding this good across a whole FM album this century.
Even heavier material like the strutting Love and War (wherein Jim Kirkpatrick unleashes some superb riffage and some classy solos) holds no fear for our titanium-tonsilled hero, who handles anything the band can throw at him whatever style or mood is required. As if to underline that last statement, Love and War is followed by a classy, early-seventies-informed slice of balladic majesty, Long Road Home, where Overland, backed by some sumptuous keyboard work from Davis and glorious backups from bassist Merv Goldsworthy gives a commanding performance dripping with feel and emotion that once again proves just how important this man should be seen as when late night talk turns to rating the great British hard rock voices.
Every time you press play on Thirteen you’ll be delighted by something different to the last time you listened as the album shifts shape to suit the listener’s mood. Need a twenty first century take on British blues rock a la Free? Here’s Just Got Started, wherein the band weave together all the many strands that make them so special into one easy to digest nugget of pure gold. Rabble rousing, crowd pleasing anthems? try opening track Shaking The Tree or penultimate track, rocker Fight Fire With Fire…
But that’s enough hyperbole. FM rarely make a misstep when they release an album, but I can honestly say with hand on heart that Thirteen is fit to sit at this band’s already-impressive top table of long-playing magnificence. And in this form, who’s to say they can’t come up with thirteen more albums just as good?
Thirteen releases on March 18th.