Greetings, Glancers! While it seems like they’ve had more, we’ve finally arrived at the 9th and penultimate Roxette album. Only one more after this and we’re done. We’ve had highs, we’ve had lows, but the journey isn’t quite done yet. This is another album I know next to nothing about and I haven’t heard one second of music from it. Wikipedia tells me that the album is a sequel to Tourism, which is nice, but also that it didn’t sell very well. Looking at the tracklist, it seems there are a number of live tracks of older songs included for some reason, so I’ll be removing those from my listen-through. Lets do this.
‘Me & You & Terry & Julie‘ has a sort of countdown before a lovely folk pop Country guitar intro leads into a rather pleasant verse. Then out of nowhere, a jubilant Marie chorus blasts our ears off. It reminds me quite a lot of Show Me The Wonder. The two parts have no transition whatsoever – I had to check quickly if they were in fact different songs – and yet both parts are done very well and in classic Roxette style feature sweet pop melodies. It then closes with a melancholy mirror of the intro. An interesting opening song, and one of their best in many albums.
‘Lover Lover Lover‘ opens with a middling tempo – again I’m getting the same melancholy pop vibes as the Manics have showcased in recent years. Liberal use of brass, which you know I don’t usually enjoy, works here. The brass is not the focal point, but used as the backup it is best suited to being. The guitar has a Country tambour in places, the melodies are instantly tactile, and while it isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, the duet sound revitalized. If they keep this up we could have a treat in store – given how not great the last few Roxette albums have been, evenif we get a few more songs with this quality I’ll consider the whole thing a win.
‘Turn Of The Tide‘ sweeps in like many a quiet ballad of yore. Marie is involved heavily in each of these songs before. Her voice sounds strong and clear, and the melodies have been suited to her ability to soar sweetly. This is a faintly gorgeous song with an easy nature, yet the emotional weight it now carries is quite hefty now that she has passed on. Three for three.
‘Touched By The Hand Of God‘ has a swirl, then a pop rock guitar crunch. It’s the first Per lead, and he sounds even more youthful than ever. The verse has small jangling piano parts at bounces along at a fair rip, but the chorus is a step up bringing another sweet set of hooks. An okay song, elevated by a strong chorus. Lots of twinkling synth capering in there too.
‘Easy Way Out‘ opens like a 60s Hippie dream – folk guitars, piano, and I may have imagined flutes or tin whistles. A Per lead again, it’s all very sweet, Marie does some slight but effective harmonies. The second verse brings a spring of Country guitar. A little instrumental/solo section in the middle helps things along. It’s a sit by the campfire, making daisy chains kind of song, if you’re into that sort of thing.
‘It’s Possible V1‘ opens briefly like a very specific Iron Maiden song – same echoing guitar and tone, this comparison evaporating as soon as the verse begins. Brief is the order of the day – brief riff, brief simple verse, brief catchy chorus, and short and sweet middle 8/instrumental. It takes the old form of Per verse, Marie chorus. It’s short and basic, not the best song on the album but not bad.
‘Perfect Excuse‘ starts out like a quiet ballad, sole piano which grows more melancholy as it moves along. Some minor guitar parts accompany as Marie’s vocal starts. It’s pretty obvious what conclusions we can draw from the lyrics and her performance here, but it is beautiful, sad. It sounds like there’s another woman singing harmonies too, unless it’s a dual Marie vocal. Strings join in – can’t have a ballad without them. Lovely.
‘Excuse Me Sir, Do You Want Me To Check On Your Wife‘ is… well, with a name like that I’m already imagining a weird slice of Per experimenting. Fortunately, it doesn’t begin that way and instead feels like another poignant piano piece. The lyrics are amusing, are they personal? I love the way the song builds from verse, into the title lyric, and then into the chorus, with Per and Marie exchanging lines.
‘Angels Passing’ fades in rather abruptly with a collection of, what sounds aptly like harps. A soothing Per verse and angelic Marie backing vocals mark this as another sweet and short effort. A shade under three minutes its over shortly after it begins – a nice sustained note to finish.
‘The Weight Of The World‘ is, you may have guessed, another piano and soft guitar led track. Minor key melodies and introspective lyrics. It’s Per for the lead again – that’s one of the major things I’ve noticed on this album – that his vocals aren’t annoying me like they sometimes can. Marie takes over for the second verse and chorus. It’s a quietly powerful song – it doesn’t try to peak or force its will, but rather is confident that it’ll make its mark.
‘See Me‘ closes the album – another ballad. Piano, guitar. Minor key. Marie lead this time. The minor key verse leads to an ethereal chorus. It’s a song which strips the author bare and simply says ‘here I am, see me’. In that vein it works well as an honest love song. Melodies strike a chord again.
‘It’s Possible V2‘ must be a bonus track, another version of an earlier track on the album. It dispenses with the chugging guitar and takes a more pop or folk approach. Aside from that, it’s pretty similar – melodies still work.
Well, where the hell did that come from? My issue with Roxette in pretty much all of their albums has been that (the early albums at least) have a set of excellent singles, then filler album tracks. As the albums progressed, the strength of the singles lessened and the the fillers became more overblown or uneventful. SO it’s a surprise then that this is probably their best album. It’s consistent – any number of the songs could be singles, and there isn’t really any filler. The album doesn’t have a Joyride or a It Must Have Been Love, but that would have been the icing on an already sweet cake. Any experimental nonsense has been abandoned so that good old fashioned honest and personal songwriting can be the focus, with special attention to melody which was always the band’s greatest strength. I imagine this could be an emotional experience for the die-hard Roxette, I could feel it even being a passing fan. It feels like a perfect send off for the band, and even if the next album is crap, we’ll at least have this one, and their previous hits to enjoy forever.
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Me & You & Terry & Julie. Lover Lover Lover. Turn Of The Tide. Easy Way Out. Perfect Excuse. The Weight Of The World. See Me.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Travelling!