Sunday, 20 August 2017

Album Review: THUNDER – Rip It Up

thunder - rip it upThunder are one of those bands that, if you ask a friend to name a song of theirs, there’s a good chance you’ll get an answer. Even more likely is that said song will be “Love Walked In” which, let’s face it, is a great song. I’ll confess, there’s a good chance that’s the only song I’d be able to name as well. Thunder were always that band that my dad liked – so even if I wanted to listen to them, I couldn’t. At least not when I was younger – luckily, I’ve now seen the error of my ways, and Rip It Up has gone a hell of a way to showing me how wrong I was.

Opening track “No One Gets Out Alive” (nice cheery title) is a song that basically grabs you by both balls and forces you to listen – from the opening chords and drumbeat to the incredible vocals, this is a song that will surely grace many a live set for years to come. The thing is, the more you listen to this song, the more you realise just how deep the lyrics actually are – I’ve been going through a bit of a rough time recently, but this song really did speak to me and make me realise that, y’know what, it ain’t that bad. In fact, it may have unofficially become my new anthem or ‘go to happy song’.

Title track “Rip It Up,” by contrast, feels almost dirty – but in a good way. It’s not a sleazy song, but it feels like it really should be. This is one song that is guaranteed to get your foot tapping. The lyrics are also incredibly catchy and, bizarrely, quite fun to sing.

She Likes the Cocaine” gets us back in the groove, with a pretty funky guitar-led masterpiece. Thunder have used female backing vocalists in the past, but she is absolutely excellent here.

Right from The Start,” however, is quite possibly the best song on the album. For all the personally emotional heft of “No One Gets Out Alive,” this is an incredibly beautiful ballad that really makes you think about your relationships, whether they be successful or failed, current or past. I’ll be honest – I had to take a break after this song, that’s how much it affected me.

So, after a brief, coffee-fueled break, we jump straight back in with “Shakedown,” and I don’t think there could be a better song to follow “Right from The Start” – it melts away any emotional damage that may have been caused (though that’s likely to only happen to me) and instead plasters a stupid grin on your face. This is a catchy song that will have you singing along after one or two listens.

Heartbreak Hurricane” both sounds and begins like another ballad – but it quickly proves it’s much more than that. Yes, there is definitely a ballad in there – but the guitar work alone makes you appreciate it all the more. It’s one of those select few songs that can make you hold your lighter in the air one minute, then play air guitar the next.

Moving on to “In Another Life,” brings us back to earth to an almost ballad-y song. At first, it feels like the kind of song that could be sung in some sort of smoky jazz bar – when I think of Thunder, I always think of a band a good bit heavier than this. That said, this is a fabulous song – if I could sing, I would consider this as a karaoke song.

It’s hard to believe that we’re on to the last four songs now – but there’s no letting up. “The Chosen One” starts off with something I’ve rarely heard in a rock album recently –  a piano. But it really works here. Also, any song that includes the word ‘ingénue’ (and pronounced correctly) is automatically on to a winner – it seems to be one of those rarely used words, but it fits well here.

The Enemy Inside” and “Tumbling Down,” meanwhile, make a strangely perfect double-bill. While the former feels more polished, the latter brings back the almost sleazy edge that was at the start of the album. They both display the incredible guitar work that, over the course of the album, I’ve almost come to expect from Thunder.

There’s Always a Loser” is a great way to finish the album – it strangely reminds me of the perfect song to end a night out, or end a gig. If they decide to go down that route, then you heard it here first. But seriously, this song basically encapsulates the entire album – great vocals, incredible guitar work and the sort of lyrics that actually make you think about what you’re listening to.

Overall, Rip It Up is a great album – from an outsider’s point of view. If you’re a lifelong Thunder fan, then I’d like to think there’ll be something in here for you. But from my perspective, I have a new-found respect for them – they’re definitely a band I’ll be trying to catch more of in the future. And I have an entire back catalogue to catch up with.

About Gareth Franklin

UK - Writer

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