Europe - Last Look At Eden
2009 actually marks Year 30 for Europe, with Joey Tempest and co. originally starting as a cover band called Force back in 1979, when a dirty denim jacket was about the only acceptable uniform for a young Swedish man about town. Last Look At Eden is the band's eighth album and the third since re-convening for 2004's Start From The Dark. This new incarnation saw them discard much of what made them famous back in the 80s, determined to create something contemporary and relevant to today's rock audience.
The hair is obviously less bouffant than it was but the cards are on the table from the outset, with the title track opening with a Zeppelin-esque stomp that builds to a fine, yearning chorus. The guitars have a nice crunch to them: remove Tempest's classic rock wail and this could be Velvet Revolver, with none of the synth heavy cheese of their 80s material to spoil the rock. Tracks like 'Catch That Plane' and 'Mojito Girl' have a snake-hipped groove to them that puts most of their contemporaries to shame and album highlight 'The Beast' is, frankly, kick-ass.
'No Stone Unturned' is the album's central track, melding a Maiden-esque gallop with some Eastern spice and, credit where it's due, as you roll towards album's end, you can't help but be struck by the fact that this is an extremely solid, well-crafted album created by journeymen professionals who know their audience. 'Only Young Twice' follows and you'd swear the choppy rhythm guitar had come from a Pearl Jam track.
Of course it wouldn't be a proper rock album without the obligatory Zippo-in-the-air ballads and 'New Love In Town' fulfills that function here, although the bluesy closer 'In My Time' outstays its welcome by a couple of minutes or so too.
Their history - and that track - precedes them, so it remains to be seen if Last Look At Eden is enough to pull a new generation of fans through the doors, but anyone completely underwhelmed by Def Leppard's Songs From the Sparkle Lounge for example, will find all their classic rock needs met within these twelve tracks.