Magnum - Brand New Morning
What is pomp rock anyway? Usually twinned with the catchall term 'melodic' as though melody was something confined to very specific genres. The best way to think of it is probably a bit like heavy metal but slower, which depending upon your tastes will either appeal or it won't. The opening track defines the rest of the album, 'Brand New Morning' plods along like 'Metallica' on some very vicious downers with it's large and warm power chords and its catchy chorus. It would be churlish to criticise for lack of experimentation, for this is what Magnum do best and, on this latest album, they're doing it very well indeed. They should do, mind, considering they've been together for some thirty years.
There are moments on here that will send 'Magnum's fans into rapture. 'The Blue And The Grey' is one of the finest 'lighters in the air' moments released for some time. Big, big chords and a big, big chorus and some lovely guitar work from Tony Clarkin, whose playing here is faultless; knowing exactly how much is needed and not playing a single superfluous note. This is also true of the rest of the album, there's great guitar work throughout - listen to the intro to 'Hard Road' for a great example of this. 'Its Time To Come Together' instantly transports you back to 1986, with it's multi-layered keyboard lines and thin guitar sound. 'The Last Goodbye' is a perfectly constructed slice of pop-rock with some nice hooks sprinkled throughout.
There are no surprises on this album. Bob Catley's vocals sound pretty much the same as they did thirty years ago, and, for that matter, so does the rest of the band. Tony Clarkin's production is excellent; the band has room to breathe and nothing is over-done. This sort of MTV friendly rock is very much an acquired taste, but if you like this sort of thing, you certainly won't be disappointed with this offering. It's a bit inoffensive and bland for anyone else, though.