Review by Peter Coates – www.facebook.com/InsideEdgePhotography
IN AT THE DEEP END
Released – June 23rd
Pride & Joy Music
Since bursting out onto the scene in Nottingham in 2017, Midnite City have toured, gigged, rehearsed and recorded as much as possible, despite the issues from the pandemic, taken on the world and are considered one of the top modern exponents of quality melodic rock.
Their debut self-titled album was a cracker, with Harry Hess mastering their demos, and the full band being pulled together, to become leaders of a resurgence in commercial AOR hair-metal heaven!
The 2021 Itch You Can’t Scratch album took the band to another level of songwriting and quality of recording that really showcased their talents, and the new album, mixed by Chris Laney (Europe, Crash Diet, Crazy Lixx) has got the all the 1980s Melodic Rock boxes ticked – from party rock anthems, to melodic rock monsters, to heartfelt power ballads, it’s all here on show with In At The Deep End.
The band kicks off the record like their live shows, with a bit of an industrial noise intro, that piles into one of the strongest opening tracks heard this year in Ready To Go. This is a belter of a hard-driving rocker, featuring lush keyboards, huge backing vocals, and Rob Wylde delivers the lead vocal line with such range and tone. This is up there with Bon Jovi’s Runaway, and sets the scene for the rest of the record. In fact, what comes next is even more immense, with Someday laying down a marker to be one of the most sensational AOR rock tracks of the year! Great hook line in the chorus, some cracking drum patterns, and a wicked little solo before the slight break, thunderous drums, and the final chorus.
I am not going to pretend that this record is giving the listener anything new – we have had more than 40 years of melodic rock being refined and polished on both sides of the Atlantic – but for those brought up in those heady days this album will transport you back to those nights at clubs like The Hungry Years in Brighton, and Rob and the boys have mostly provided a set of songs that work, helped by the epic production. In my days in a band, inspired by the likes of FM and Bon Jovi, we used to come up with song titles that were the most AOR – Hardest Heart to Break would definitely fit the criteria! A power ballad that really hits the mark.
There’s a poppier feel to Good Time Music which screams top-down cruising alongside the ocean, backed with a host of keyboard flutters and chords from Shawn Charvette, and a massive backing chorus, before another tight solo. US FM Radio should be picking this up right now for the summer season! All Fall Down is a trademark Midnite City track, firmly in the Loverboy / Honeymoon Suite, with a killer riff, some quality double-tracked lead vocals, and a nice call and repeat pre-chorus before one of the best choruses ever. The guitar solo from Miles Meakin is a blinder – he is somewhat of an understated guitarist, but everything he does on this record screams quality and precision. There is a super-solid backing track delivered by Josh “Tabbie” Williams on the bass, and new permanent drummer Ryan Briggs with some double-kick magic behind the kit.
Another pop-rock epic is the latest single release in Girls Gone Wild with catchy hooks, a classic key-change, slick solo, and even one of those mid-sections of drums and keyboards before that key-change…remember them! Rob shows off a higher register here, and nails it. A very mellow ballad is Beginning Of The End, driven along by the rumbling bass and layers of keyboards, and all very pleasant, however it does not ever seem to go anywhere, and meanders gently to the fade-out without leaving much of an impact.
The schlock-horror vibe of They Only Come Out At Night from the last album is reprised with Raise The Dead which is a stonker of a raucous rocker, still very much in the melodic vein, but with a harder edge in the guitars, and a bit of menace in the keyboards. This is top-notch, featuring a prominent cowbell, and an even better solo from Miles than on All Fall Down, with some superb harmonies which may be with Shawn sharing guitar duties. This will be a belter live!
The lighters are waving, the girls are weeping, and the hairs on the back the neck start to bristle with It’s Not Me It’s You as the quintessential AOR power ballad – think Bad English crossed with Hysteria-era Def Leppard. Huge-sounding bass and drums, with chugging riff and power-chords, and layer upon layer of vocals and keyboards, and another excellent guitar break from Miles. This is a glorious example of what made 1980’s melodic rock so memorable.
The album closes with another Midnite City signature track in Like There’s No Tomorrow, an up-tempo rocker that has it all, and really demonstrates that while this may be somewhat formulaic (and what music is not nowadays), when you have a band that has been together for 6 or 7 years, writing and performing, with a shared love of all those 1980’s and 1990’s glossy melodic rock acts, they can produce a steady flow of high-quality songs, with excellent musicianship and add to this some epic production values and you have something special.
Pre-Order the Album : https://midnitecity.lnk.to/deepend
Live Photos – Pete Coates, Inside Edge Photography