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THUNDER Wonder Days

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 @ 3:45 PM


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THUNDER
Wonder Days

Scarecrow Records/earMusic - 2015




I feel the need to confess that in all my years of listening to music and having knowledge of the existence of THUNDER, I've never actually listened to the band before.

Yes, shocking I know. But thanks to a sampler CD from a magazine that I read, I got to listen to a live concert the band did which included a couple tracks from their new album Wonder Days. And those tracks were incredible. I had to get my hands on the disc to see if the tiny taste I got was carried through on the entire album.

While the album is written almost entirely by guitarist Luke Morley, the whole band manages to take his songs and turn them individually and collectively into their own.

The title track leads off the album and it immediately opens with a fantastic riff that goes on throughout the song. I was taken by the line "I'm not one for looking back but when I do I have to smile". The lyrics reflect a very nostalgic look back despite the sentiment expressed in that line. Singer Danny Bowes sounds absolutely fantastic, his voice dripping with melodic ease as he glides and powers his way through this vocal performance (and throughout each track on the album). The expressed lack of desire to look back is also offset by the songs "Resurrection Day" (the standout song for single release) and the rocker "When The Music Played". There's an immediacy to "Resurrection Day" from the first note to the last. Also of note was the incredible first lyrical verse and the outstanding chorus. As for "When The Music Plays", the song recalls growing up when music was everything and you'd listen to the radio for all your favorite songs and those songs that were soon to become your new favorites. The best thing about this lyrical looking back is that none of the three songs come off as maudlin, but rather a fond remembrance of a particular time and place in the lives of the band (and for that matter, anyone listening to the songs).

The album, which became the band's first Top 10 album in Britain in 20 years, does vary its lyrical themes throughout the course of the rest of the disc. "The Rain" is a mid tempo paced track that finds a man in the midst of drought wondering when the rain will return to his life. The song is acoustically driven, a stylistic choice that also comes in to play on the two bonus tracks. There's a noir/Western feel to the mid-to-uptempo track "Black Water". The song features the line "Black water running through my soul, I'll be the ruin of you." It might paint me as one drawn to "The Dark Side" but that particular line really resonated with me for some reason. The first bonus track is an acoustic version of this song and somehow manages to actually elevate the song even more.

I loved the old-time noisy rock and roll vibe to "I Love The Weekend". It's a perfect track to have as the theme song for a weekend rock party. On "Serpentine", there's a swinging feel to the tale of a visit to a S&M house of "ill-repute". Morley's lyrics and the sort of playfulness of Bowes' vocal delivery make this song a winner.

Despite the relative smoothness of the vocals from Bowes, the band only slows things down for one ballad. It does give a little extra bit of spotlight for his voice and what he sings will resonate with anyone whose ever gone through a breakup. The second bonus track is an acoustic version of this song.

What makes Wonder Days such an amazing release is that this band, which first got started releasing music in 1990 with Backstreet Symphony, has continued making their music their way. It's solid rock and roll through and through. And while they can look back lyrically and musically, the songs are fresh, not dated. I may be 25 years late to the party, but I'm here now and I can say that THUNDER's Wonder Days is both an album that needs to be heard and one of the singularly best releases of 2015.

4.8 Out Of 5.0

Grab a copy of Wonder Days in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.


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