The name Angelica Rylin might not ring any bells for most people but for folks inside Melodic Rock and AOR circles with a little bit of insight into that world will recognize her as the singer in cinematic, symphonic and theatrical Hard Rock/AOR/Metal outfit The Murder Of My Sweet, a band she runs with her hubby, drummer, keyboardist and song writer Daniel Flores. TMOMS has to date released five albums since 2010. Back in 2013, Rylin also released her debut solo album Thrive, an album that did fairly well. With a whole bunch of song writers from Frontiers’ stable, Angelica seemed to be launched as a Swedish Issa, both when it came to the music and the album’s artwork. Nothing new under the sun there, then.

I really liked that album although I can admit that even though I listened to it quite a bit back then, I haven’t listened to it it for a while now. Thing is, the sound of all those Frontiers productions has more or less painted itself into a corner by now and many of those records sounds very alike. For her follow-up, Angelica has spoken about a bit of a change musically to something that’s more her – hence the album’s title – and with her she has brought Flores for both song writing and production duties, something he also did for Thrive. Flores also plays drums and keyboards and for guitar, bass and song writing duties, the very talented Michael Palace  – also current with a new album soon – was brought along for the ride. All this really sounds interesting from where I stand.

The album opens with the leading single/video ”Calling” and this is not what I had expected at all. This is a Pop song. Pure Pop. The tune goes in mid-tempo, a bit laid-back but with a stompy, programmed rhythm and a modern touch sound-wise. There is, however, sparse nods towards AOR but with a mountain of synths and a mainstream radio-friendly touch it’s still a few steps away from any Rock at all. That said, it’s a catchy song and I quite like it. The Pop stays on in the fast-tracked and upbeat ”Beat Them All”, released as an official audio. This one, however, throws a glance towards a rockier sound and the direct and effective chorus is in a more traditional AOR vein. It’s a good song with big hit-potential – pretty good but it doesn’t floor me.

Another official audio, ”Addicted To You” follows. It begins stripped, light-minded and frugal but morphs into a heavier yet slower groove with a quite punchy beat. The tune is really a Hard Rock fueled pop-song with some crunchy guitars although they dwell in the background behind the synthesizers at front. The chorus is direct and effective and should be able to work itself into mainstream radio rotation. Good song. With ”I’m Sorry” it’s ballad time and what we’re getting here is a pretty saccharine pop-ballad, very non-rock-radio oriented. That said, the song also sports an 80’s power ballad rhythm and a guitar solo straight from 1989 Arena Rock. Angelica’s voice caresses the listener with both power and finesse and the chorus is right on target. It’s not really my kind of style but I really like this one.

 

”Time And Space” starts with a guitar-line taken right off Def Leppard’s ”Hysteria” but when the verse starts it goes into a mellow and laid-back mode. Even though the Def Leppard influences goes through the whole song, what we’re given here is a full-on pop-ballad. I also hear some mid 90’s melody arrangements. It’s an ok track but it never really lifts and the chorus don’t stick around either. Michael Palace shows up for a duet with Rylin on the darker laden and calmer slow-tracked ”Don’t Say Goodbye”. The tune is mellow, melancholic and soft on the ballad side in a straight-forward way with a smoother touch but it’s also quite mediocre and forgettable – in my book a filler.

”Still Bleeding” takes a mid-paced route, based on synthesizers more than guitar and feels quite streamlined. It gets more upbeat as it goes along though and on a quite chunky rhythm the song goes from full-on Pop to a glance towards a more AOR-ish sound, especially in the direct chorus that do brings on some clear hooks. Lyrically, ”Living On High Hopes” seems to have been built on a template of Europe’s ”Prisoners In Paradise” with Bon Jovi’s ”Livin’ On A Prayer” thrown in here and there. Musically, we get a pop-tune, very slick and glossy. There are some mid 90’s pop-structure mixed with 80’s Melodic Rock for dynamics sake and it do hold a distinct melody and refrain. That said, again things gets both mainstream and predictable. Not bad but not that great either.

”A Pounding Heart” sounds like something that could have been on the pop-charts on mainstream radio back in the 80’s. It’s a pop-song in an AOR suit – or vice versa – with a nice refrain that leaves me humming it when it’s done. It’s a decent track but a bit too slick. The mellow and slow ballad ”Angel” mixes radio-pop with some country and vocal melodies so sugary they might cause me diabetes. I’m not shy on a fine-tuned ballad at all but this is way too mawkish for my taste. And it doesn’t have anything to do with either Rock or AOR either. This is Pop. The album closes with ”Time To Go Home”, another ballad albeit on an upbeat mode, quite big and bombastic where 90’s Pop blends with some late 80’s power balladry. The chorus is catchy, smooth and somewhat glossy and comes across as a Pop version of The Murder Of My Sweet. It’s a bit on the cheesy side with a grabbing hit-hook, perfect for mainstream radio. A decent track, though.

First of all, if you like me hoped that this would an AOR album like her debut, think again. It’s not. This is a Pop record with only tiny flirtations with AOR and Melodic Rock. I see the title and I think, is this all she is? Really? Well, if it is, good for her but this is not for me. A bad album, then? No, not bad but not that great either. I have no problem with Pop at all. Lots of music, from AOR to Metal, has pop-influences waved in, so no. The problem here is that nothing really stands out, too much of it are so mainstream and slick that it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Angelica is a brilliant singer and her amazing voice saves many of the songs and the musical performances aren’t under any discussion at all. It’s the songs. They just don’t cut it here, at least not the way I hoped for. This album feels more like an album of an Idol-winner than a record on a Rock label. I cross my fingers for a more stellar effort the next time around because I’m pretty sure there’ll be another solo trip for her.

** (4/10)

//Jompa

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