Has it really only been thirteen months since The Night Flight Orchestra released Amber Galactic – which by the way, was my personal number one album of 2017? Now the death metal-turned ’80s AOR supergroup is back and ready to cater to our guilty dad-rock pleasures with Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough, the band’s fourth album. Thirteen months is unheard of in this musical era. Can the band craft another album as compelling as the last?
Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough kicks off in high-flying, glorious fashion with the rocking anthem “This Time,” drawing a line in the sand for the next eleven songs. Aside from the high tempo, it gives us a glimpse of what’s in store: rousing choruses, inspiring vocals, and a predominance of keyboard work that wasn’t there on Amber Galactic.
And sure enough, this is a very keyboard-centric album. Gone are the great guitar hooks from Amber Galactic, replaced with authentic ’80s synth-driven anthems. Songs like “Turn to Miami,” “Barcelona,” and the title track all pay homage to the great AOR acts of the mid-eighties like REO Speedwagon and Toto. It’s not at all unappealing, but it’s also by no means hard rock. Take that for what you will.
When the guitars do come into play, it’s in a very funky way. “Paralyzed” and “Pretty Thing Closing In” are catchy as hell, saccharine enough to induce diabetes, and simply too much fun to not keep coming back to. More riffs wouldn’t have been a bad thing at all. However, what I really picked up on this time around is the excellent bass guitar work from Sharlee D’Angelo (of Arch Enemy and the underrated Spiritual Beggars). His work on “Paralyzed” and “The Last of the Independents” is inspiring.
The odd duck out here is the final track, “The Last of the Independent Romantics.” Stylistically the song fits in with the album, but it clocks in at over nine minutes in length. Epic, especially for this kind of music. But honestly, it’s also one of the best songs. The guitar riff two minutes in is superb, and as always Björn Strid sings his lungs out. Nine minutes flies by.
A lack of catchy guitar hooks isn’t really the album’s downfall (if a 4 out of 5 album can have one). No, the issue with Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough is that it’s too long. Twelve songs could have been eight or nine and been much more effective. A number of these cuts are certainly also-rans from the Amber Galactic sessions, but some restraint in quantity would have pushed this a half-star higher, as songs like “Speedwagon” and “Barcelona” are merely filler.
So while Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough doesn’t climb to the heights for me that Amber Galactic did last year, it’s still hands down the best soundtrack (again) for our summer months. Maybe three or four songs fewer and the album would have had a much greater impression. As it stands, though, it’s still an infectiously fun record, one you can’t help smiling to when blasting it on the patio.
(released June 29, 2018 on Nuclear Blast)
Heavy Music Headquarters Rating:
Watch The Night Flight Orchestra – “This Time” Video