A skyscraper of an album.
Having done a few FM reviews over the last couple of years, 'Metropolis' is the one I’ve been waiting for, 15 years waiting for to be precise. Not including rare and unreleased compilations, live albums, DVD’s etc 'Metropolis' has been a loooooooong time coming after the last studio offering of 'Dead Man’s Shoes'.
But....has it been worth the wait I hear you ask. Undoubtedly so! I honestly didn’t think that FM had a quality album left in them, and that they had left the glory days behind with 'Aphrodisiac' almost 20 years ago. The boys have pulled a blinder by recruiting Steve’s neighbour and friendly neighbourhood axe slinger, Jim Kirkpatrick, a mere young un compared to the rest of the lads, but bugger me, he’s given their style a right wellie up the backside. I’d heard his work with Thea Gilmore previously, but in FM he’s given a much wider reign to show off his talent and gives a very classy performance kicking ass when needed and not overplaying like others would.
Opening track ‘Wildside’ sets out the stall for the FM coaster ride that’s to follow, one of the best songs they’ve written in years, a pulsating, melodic gem, choc full of class with Kirkpatrick showing what an excellent guitarist he really is. In a time when this style of music is having a major impact in the States with Daughtry and David Cook, FM match this US FM Radio quality note for note. Don’t believe me? Well check out ‘Hollow’ and tell me that doesn’t deserve to be heard by a wider audience than the UK. This is what FM were built for AOR/pop rock crossover that has huge West Coast quality in abundance.
Steve Overland has been a busy bloke these last few years with other commitments - Shadowman / The Ladder and a couple of solo albums, but really has kept his best vocals for the band that matters most. His range has changed a little but no one in British rock can sing like this. ‘Flamingo Road’ has more than a hint of ACDC and Bad Company and is a style that comes so easy to them, infectious grooves and a fabby chorus with layered harmonies bands would kill their Granny for. ‘Over You’ has the harmonies nailed, and is a great addition to their live set. ‘I Ain’t The One’ has a Bryan Adams feel to it, before the horn section return on ‘Don’t Need Nothin’’. I thought horns went out of rock fashion in the early 90’s!
Metropolis has all the DNA traits of the great FM albums of the past. This is a worthy addition to the FM collection. It’s not their best album, but it's bloody close to their peak output and is probably the best album any of them could make at this stage of their career. It will take some beating in finding a better rock/AOR/melodic album over the course of the rest of this year. FM are definitely back in the groove.