FM – Atomic Generation
When I first started being a fan of FM in the mid to late 80’s I never thought that 30-odd years down the line that –
a. I would ever be in a position to review their music, and
b. I never thought that there would be an FM in 2018, or 2008 come to think of it!
Where some bands have failed, FM still has the bite, fire and desire to still knock out a great tune all these years later. Especially as they have the ace up their sleeve in one Steve Overland. Since they came back in 2007, they have been knocking one out (albums you dirty sod) what feels like every year. If there hasn’t been an album then they have kept interest going with a few EPs along the way.
Out of all the albums since their headlining slot at Firefest, and their second wind for me, its ‘Metropolis’ that has been the one album to beat. The others since have had some crackin’ tunes, but none were as consistently good as ‘Metropolis’.
What do we get with ‘Atomic Generation’. Well, opener ‘Black Magic’ is as typical an FM song as you’re ever likely to hear – catchy chorus, decent riff, lots of spit and polish, and plenty of ‘whoa-ohs’ to the part where they are all doing it! Not once did he sing about a ‘Caramel Caress’ or a ‘Hazelnut Swirl’. It also has a little ’break’ that was in use in a similar effect on ‘Burning My Heart Down’. In fact, if you like ‘Crosstown Train’, ‘Digging Up The Dirt’, and ‘Tough Love’ from recent albums, then you’re a happy little bunny as ‘Black Magic’ is an opener in the same style as these. ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ is straight out of the 80’s – taking a leaf out of Foreigner’s book. Had it been 1987, this would be all over MTV like a rash. ‘Killed By Love’ is again an 80’s pop rocker, with a chorus that has come straight out of Rick Springfield’s locker. If its not ‘whoa’s’, it’s ‘yeah-ee-eh’s’.
‘In It For The Money’ harks back to the Aphrodisiac days with its blues-y overtones. Its one of the heavier songs on the album and is the side of FM I want to see and hear more of. ‘Golden Days’ kicks off with a Don Henley ‘Boys Of Summer’ sound. ‘Take me back to those golden days’ croons Overland, ‘I wanna go back, I wanna feel that way again’ and they have with this , and in a way so do we as it catapults you back to the mid 80’s. ‘Playing Tricks On Me’ immediately comes over as Santana-esque, and at times even sounds a bit like Michael McDonald and is miles away from a typical FM sound. ‘Tonite Matthew….’. If it sounds out of place to the rest, that’s because it is. Its not rubbish, its just so different to every other song on the album.
‘Make The Best Of What You Got’, which is a title very similar both lyrically and a chorus vocally as Bad English’s ‘Best Of What I Got’. ‘Follow Your Heart’, is a slow burn. I didn’t think much at first, but it’s a definite grower. An FM album wouldn’t be an FM album if they didn’t have a love song/ ballad or two in tow. In their second life, I don’t think FM can top ‘Story Of My Life’, so for me, anything else pales into insignificance. ‘Do You Love Me Enough’ is OK, but cant lace ‘SOML’ boots. That said, the mid section has touches of ELO and the second half of the song has some great vocal harmonies.
‘Stronger’. This is the FM I want more of, part Deep Purple, Bon Jovi with its Hammond riff, before a heavy guitar riff and Overland’s vox kick in. It’s a much heavier ‘Diggin Up The Dirt’. Finally we have ‘Love Is The Law’ and it’s the now standard vehicle for Overland’s soulful voice, and this for one will make it onto the set list, as it’s a great vocal performance.
The question at the end of the day is how many of the songs from this album will be played at an FM gig in 2 yrs time. Yes a few will be played in 2017, but I don’t see any long-term anthems that will have the crowd baying for more past 2019.
This is the first album from FM that has left me divided and at this stage, even uncertain. I don’t know for certain if it improves after a few more listens; if it is something very good, even great, or if its just ‘good’. Is ‘good’ enough? I want more songs like ‘Stronger’, ‘Make The Best Of What You Got’, and ‘In It For The Money’. Push the boat out guys, go for the jugular. Whether or not Frontiers would approve of a change is uncertain. FM have enough of a following that a ‘I think this is the most mature and complete FM album we’ve made’. Steve Overland.
Maybe time will tell. I’m not yet convinced. I’ll revisit it once I have the physical album in my mitts.
FM are –
Steve Overland – Vocals Extraordinaire & Guitar
Pete Jupp – Drums
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass
Jim Kirkpatrick – Guitars
Jem Davis – Keys
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Killed by Love
In It For The Money
Playing Tricks On Me
Make The Best Of What You Got
Follow Your Heart
Do You Love Me Enough
Love Is The Law
PRODUCED BY : FM
STUDIO: Coal House Studios and West3 Productions
RECORDED BY: Engineers: 1. Scott Ralph 2. Pete Jupp
MIXED BY: Jeff Knowler
MASTERED BY: Jim Griffiths at Principal Audio
Released – March 30th 2018