Angel Air Records (label)
21 April 2014 (released)
12 May 2014
It is the sound of Sweet alright, but not as you know it. ‘Sweetlife’ was a landmark release for the band in 2002. Written by Andy Scott and Steve Grant (who, in the past, has worked as a record producer/song writer for the likes of Alan Price, Alvin Lee, and Eric Burdon), the synergy of Scott and Grant resulted in eleven tracks, all of them compositions of a personal nature. They reflect Scott’s mood, and a long-standing career marked by highs and lows.
Title track ‘Sweetlife’ is the opener and makes for a generic rock affair bursting with strong harmonies and keyboards. Jeff Brown on main vocals adds further strength to a powerful arrangement and a rock-solid refrain.
‘Do It All Over Again’ was a single release and a huge hit especially in Germany, a nation that has always embraced anthemic orientated rock with rich vocals at the forefront, backed by well-crafted synth rock. Furthermore it is a country that has always embraced the Sweet in its various incarnations, so Andy Scott’s fiery guitar solos on this track should please the fans big time.
Undoubtedly the best track of the album, ‘Leap Of Faith’ is a power ballad with a killer tune and a refrain to match it all (here, Scott takes over on lead vocal duties). Although pretty darn close to this side of schmaltzy, one can’t deny that it is an exceptionally well-crafted song whose overall harmonious layers and the sensible use of keys and strings turn it into a little masterpiece.
The thumping intro beat of ‘Never Say Forever’ rapidly changes into a mini-symphony of sorts. It’s epic, almost pompous even, and the triple whammy effect of penetrating vocals, guitars and keys commands utter confidence to pull it off, and so it does.
Why does ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ cross my mind upon listening to ‘Airheads!’? Absolutely no idea, but it’s a fun track in any case.
‘So Far So Good’ is a mixed bag lyrically speaking, for it addresses the ups and downs of the rock ‘n’ roll world. When Jeff Brown sings, “I wanna do this forever but I don’t know if I should… so far so good / I want to sell records but not my soul” it doesn’t only throw a cynical perspective on things but is just as much a humorous send-up.
Things get hard and heavy on ‘Everybody Wants To Be Someone’, full of lethal guitar solos and some thunderous drumming for the outro.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the piece de resistance! Yes, it is the ‘Sweetlife Overunderture’ (the band sure displays a sense of humour), and this instrumental piece throws together all the components that make, well, an overture: plenty of strings, show-off synthesizers, bombastic percussions, and so forth. I’m not quite sure what the gentlemen were thinking when coming up with that idea, but it does make for a rather unexpected finale. Move over, Emerson, Lake & Palmer!
SWEETLIFE features Andy Scott (all guitars, backing vox and occasional lead vox), Steve Grant (all keyboards, programming and backing vox), Jeff Brown (bass and lead vox), and Bruce Bisland (drums and percussion).