THUNDER - WONDER DAYS - EAR MUSIC - 4.5/5
While skulking through your record collection for some classic, heavy British rock, Thunder is a band you're likely to pull out of the stack. In fact, it's probably at the top of your collection.
Since releasing their last studio album, Bang (in 2008), Thunder has been on a lengthy studio hiatus, calling it a day with their '20 Years and Out' tour in 2009. Though Thunder has been back to touring as an active band for a while, Wonder Days has been a hugely anticipated release for quite some time. When I heard that we should expect a new album, I couldn't settle until the release of the title track.
We we're lucky enough to be at the HMV, Oxford Street store to catch the Wonder Days acoustic set and signing. Hearing a selection of the Wonder Days songs in a small acoustic set was a wonderful way to get warmed-up before the three UK dates in March. The boys put together a set of Thunder classics, and a selection of songs from Wonder Days which most fans could already sing along to, and i'm sure everyone left the place with a smile from ear to ear, anticipating the 2015 tour that is on the horizon.
Prior to the Wonder Days release, I imagine that though very excited, many long-time fans were quite sceptical about the idea of this album due to the band having a lengthy period away from the studio. The band was also short of rhythm guitarist, Ben Matthews, out because of ill health. However, with seamless musicianship of guitarist Luke Morley, bass player Chris Childs, drummer Harry James, guitarist/keyboard player Ben Matthews, and the unmistakable soulful voice of Danny Bowes, Thunder was destined to make a big return, and by snagging a top ten spot this week, that’s just what they've managed to do!
It might have been too easy for the band to 'lose their touch' but with Luke Morley taking the helm on production, lead and rhythm guitar, and the band going back to what it knows best and returning to Rockfield in Monmouth, the music holds true to its roots. In true Thunder form, this album is a balanced blend of the familiar sound that the band seems to achieve time and time again. Combining blues influence and beautifully subtle acoustic tracks with the loveable high impact hard rock we've come to expect, Thunder has struck gold with this album. The diversity of this album makes it a truly captivating listen that is sure to get you singing along in no time at all.
The bulk of this album is made up of foundations of tight drum beats, solid bass lines, punchy guitar riffs and beautifully structured writing, with 'Resurrection Day' being a pristine example of Luke Morley's ability to adapt situation to song, and 'The Rain' being a perfect display of the control that Danny Bowes still manages to achieve, alongside the heavier tracks that he also handles effortlessly.
As we're design buffs at Soundclash, it seems only right to give props to the branding that's surrounding this release! From website to album artwork, the continuity of the design elements ties the whole new visual direction of the band together. Spot on!
Track Listing and Break Down:
‘Wonder Days’ - Bound to be a Thunder classic somewhere down the line. One that you won’t be able to stop singing at work. Typical Thunder.
‘The Thing I Want’ - Again, unmistakably Thunder. A very catchy rhythm, memorable verses, and a song that is sure to get you doing the 'Danny Dance'.
‘The Rain’ - A subtle acoustic track with a great story, effortlessly perfect vocals, and a refreshing melody.
‘Black Water’ - Another track that’s firmly within the traditional Thunder boundaries. A song that any long-time Thunder fan will fall in love with.
‘The Prophet’ - Something a bit different with a heavy driving force. Very similar to 'Achilles Last Stand' by Led Zeppelin, it's another song with a driving force that is a stand-out on the album.
‘Resurrection Day’ - A catchy, subtle track that pays homage to rhythm guitarist, Ben Matthews, and his recent health battles. Possibly our favourite track at the moment.
‘Chasing Shadows’ - A lot of Aerosmith vibes from this track, and quite similar to recent Glenn Huges fronted band - California Breed. Maybe this sort is back on the rise? Thunder does it wonderfully.
‘Broken’ - A beautiful ballad that's sure to get you a little teary, if that's your thing!
‘When the Music Played’ - Kickstarted with a kicking guitar section, it's bound to get your attention from the get-go. Following a similar theme to the title track, it creates a great transition from start, to near end of album.
‘Serpentine’ - Being a fan of the blues vibes on Thunder albums, this is right up our street. Though an acoustic guitar dominated song, it has more than enough appeal to keep you tapping and singing away.
‘I Love the Weekend’ - Goodness gracious great balls of fire! This one doesn't have the same high-impact as the other tracks on this album. Perhaps not one you'd expect in this mix, but it's not bad at all and it's a song that ends this album on an up-beat high!
Is this album worth purchasing? Well, if you love pure, quality rock music, then yes!
Wonder Days is an album you shouldn't be without!
Reviewed by: Christiane Robinson