|The Mob The Mob||Frontiers Records|
This is a difficult title to review. I envisage more than your average fan debate on this.|
Just 40 seconds into the debut album it will become plain and clear why this release will find some melodic rock fans raving about the marvels within and others struggling to accept why this release isn't what it could have been.
What's all the fuss? Vocalist Doug Pinnick. Let's come back to that.
This is an album of contrasts. Different styles, an interrupted flow, and some less than perfect vocals mix with some cracking performances and some truly memorable songs.
The Mob is a project featuring a rather impressive line-up of talent. Winger and Whitesnake guitarist Reb Beach; Night Ranger drummer and vocalist Kelly Keagy; Whitesnake's Timothy Drury and Kip Winger on bass, backing vocals and production duties.
Kings X frontman Doug Pinnick lends his distinctive vocals to the whole affair, aside from one track where Kelly Keagy takes the reins.
The Mob is a very groovy release. It features some amazing performances and the songs for the most part are very good examples of challenging, intelligent and original melodic hard rock. Winger meets Kings X? Sure…but there's more to it than that.
There are so many positives, but the driving force behind any commercial melodic rock album is the vocals. And Doug Pinnick's vocals are not the easiest to absorb.
While his appearance will draw in many fans, it might also drive some away. But I do hope that people will give this album time to mature, as it is far from instant and gets better the more time you invest in it.
The album opens with a couple of groove filled rockers and the third track features Kelly Keagy on a very fine commercial rock ballad The Magic. Fans of Night Ranger and Kelly solo will love this track, but it does stand out as being quite different from the rest of the material. It sounds like it has been brought in from the writing sessions for Kelly's next solo album. Buying the album on the strength of this great track might not be wise.
The highlight for me is the mid-album run of Never Get Enough through No Reason Why. These are some of the best melodic rock tunes currently being aired.
Pinnick's vocals are best when surrounded by the harmonies of the rest of the band and for those that aren't partial to his delivery; there are plenty of harmonies to help.
This album is drenched in harmonies, both during the chorus and the verse. Perhaps that was an intentional move to help the album's appeal.
As stated earlier, the album has a distinct groove and takes some listening to in order to appreciate what's going on.
Guitar Solo only runs one minute, but it still seems a little odd to include this track when there is already another full length instrumental. That track - Spaghetti Western - is a snappy (and groovy) song, but on an album where 3 lead vocalists appear in the line-up, is there really a need for an instrumental?
Highlights for me are the moody melodic groove of I Will Follow and from Never Get Enough onwards the album gets stronger and more consistent.
Looking over the album, a big issue for me - that ultimately knocks a few points off - is the track running order. The flow of the album is a little disjointed, with 2 instrumental breaks and a change of lead vocalist for track 3.
A revised running order with the instrumentals grouped together and Kelly Keagy's lead vocal closing the album might have given the material a better flow.
That said, Pinnick was a bold choice and there is no doubt that Kings X have a large fan base which should be drawn to this release by their vocalists' involvement.
I have no doubt that some would have preferred to hear Kip Winger on lead vocals or perhaps more from Kelly Keagy. I'm probably one of those people, but that doesn't change the fact there are some really fine songs featured on this release.
If anything, it stands out in the cluster of melodic rock releases in 2005 for having its own identity. But not everything falls into place perfectly.
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