Nightman Listens To – Room Service – Roxette!

*Note – written July 2019

Greetings, Glancers! It’s Roxette time again, and another album that I’m 100% unfamiliar with. Last time around, I didn’t think much of Have A Nice Day beyond a couple of okayish tracks. The general next step in a band’s late career after an average album is another average album. Some acts call it a day, others go on a hiatus before a, more often than not, well-received return to form some years down the line. This came a couple of years after the previous album so I can only assume it’s going to be the same sort of thing. I’m clutching at straws here to fill out the intro. Let’s do this.

Real Sugar: A synth opening. Per sounds as youthful as ever as he begins to sing. Melody is alright, the drums are terrible, but the chorus is better – a little edge, and as you know I prefer Marie’s vocals. The chorus actually makes the verse marginally better, giving a shadow/light dynamic to some extent. The bridge seems tacked on – as if it could have been written for any song, it doesn’t feel like part of this song necessarily. Marie’s vocals actually feel a little off here. Still, it’s a poppy opener which long-standing fans should like.

The Centre Of The Heart: We open with a swell of more of that Euro-dance sound which popped up often on the previous album. It has its place, though I can’t take a lot of it in a single sitting. The chorus is catchy, I get that, but it gets on my tits by the second time around. I much prefer the verse – it’s simple and understated, though I don’t think we need the effects on the vocals. The ‘na na na na’ stuff post-chorus is also less annoying than the actual chorus. I’m all for the strings, but the drums are feeble – not enough depth or boom to make you want to dance. They want to stay in the pop realm without doubling down with the bass. I understand if people like this, but it’s average as far as their singles go.

Milk And Toast And Honey: Three things I like. A lullaby style introduction, or like the sound from opening one of those creepy jewelry boxes which has a ballet figurine twirling around inside. Lyrics aren’t the best, the rhymes seem forced. The melody is sweet, I like the extra line without the music accompaniment before the chorus. Was that a chorus? It was over before I actually typed the sentence. Yes, second time round it is a chrous. I’ve always felt Roxette is at their best when doing ballads – power or otherwise. This is a straight, innocent ballad though it doesn’t tug in the right places this time around. Matron.

Jefferson: A straight soft pop rock song of the type we expect by the band. I’ve no idea who Jefferson is, but I can see people singing along with the chorus. This is probably the most catchy (without being annoying) song so far, though I don’t think we could do with the piano following the melody in the bridge. Very simple, but not bad.

Little Girl: Squeaky synth stuff and piano and more weak drums. It’s another ballad so I automatically sort of enjoy the melody. The chorus isn’t great, Marie’s pushed vocal makes it better for a moment. The second verse and pre-chorus are a little jumbled and ruin the momentum. The rest of the song is a non-eventful bridge and more repeats of the chorus.

Looking For Jane: Another nice enough song – melodies are nice, vocals nice, music nice. It’s just very safe and doesn’t hit the heights of their best stuff. Again, fans will gobble it down. It’s not bad, just lacking the impetus and spark.

Bringing Me Down To My Knees: Another ballad. More Marie, so that’s a positive. Maybe if I’d heard all these, maybe if they had been made fifteen years earlier and been part of my childhood I would enjoy them more. There’s nothing wrong here, ignoring the fact that it’s all safe and simple. It’s a case of me being nowhere near the target audience for this sort of stuff and assuming that the fans will still enjoy it. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, but the band was once capable of more.

Make My Head Go Pop: Another up-tempo Euro-pop thing with Per vocals. As with the others it doesn’t have a big enough chorus, or edge, or thumping bass to appeal to the crowd who listens to this type of music – it’s Roxette’s lighter take on that type of music without really adding anything good to it. The little lullaby in the middle is a nice twist I guess, but it doesn’t lead to anything.

Try: Well, that is very Gina G of you. Back with Marie now. It’s slow. It promises to go somewhere but instead is content to remain in this dreamy aimless space.

Fool: Haven’t we heard this one already? No, it has trumpet or something, so that’s new. They’re all blending together now – no melody poking its head out of the ground, no moment grabbing my attention. That trumpet is very annoying.

It Takes You No Time To Get Here: A Per ballad now. This is sweet. His vocals get a little weird in the chorus. This feels like a Country song, thankfully without any Country shite. If I heard this on its own I’d maybe enjoy it a tad more, but these album listens are hard work and suck any of the goodness out of the good songs. A lot of the songs feel much longer than they are.

My World My Love My Life: Fade in. Crappy drums, good piano. I realise I’m repeating myself. I quite like this, at least the chorus melody has an air of sadness even though the lyrics seem positive. I’d add this to my playlist picks but it’s too similar to everything else that is there.

I know Roxette were never the most exciting band beyond a few hits in the 80s, but they did have a knack for making emotive pop. Now it all seems very boring. I do prefer this to the previous album – less focus on studio malarkey and more on making good songs. The songs still don’t end up being very good, but at least they don’t get on my nerves. It’s just pleasant background music for people who don’t really love music. It’s another album where I’ve already forgotten every song as I type this. There were some C grade hooks, none of it was bad – just meh. Forgettable. As memorable to me as any of the faces I pass each day – there for a second, gone for eternity, forgotten or barely registered. I actually liked a number of the songs but none of them reach A grade. They’re still nice enough that I wouldn’t take issue with hearing them again, but I imagine they wouldn’t last long on my playlist. Man, I need some metal after this.

Let me know, etc.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Jefferson. Milk And Toast And Honey. Looking For Jane. It Takes You No Time To Get Here.

Nightman Listens To Bryan Adams – Room Service

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Greetings, Glancers! Well here we are at album number 10 for Mr Adams. Quite a feat sir, quite a feat. We’ve had highs, we’ve had lows, but I’m still listening baby. If an artist or band hasn’t gone sour by album 10, they are a rare breed, but time catches up on us all. Has time caught up with Adams here? I’ve no idea as I’m not confident that I have heard a single song from this album. The song ‘This Side Of Paradise’ sounds familiar, but I won’t know till I actually listen. According to online sources the album still sold fairly well worldwide, but didn’t make an impact in the US due to Adams not having a record company or something. It seems like most critics had abandoned him by now too, not that they were ever really on his side, to be fair. But I will be fair, for I am The Nightman, and wherever there are experiences to experience, The Nightman will give his four cents (the other two are a tip). What was I doing again? Ah yes.

‘East Side Story’ starts with Guitar and swirly noises. Familiar scratchy vocals. Basic verse. Sudden chorus. Fine. Plain. Doesn’t really rock, doesn’t really sway. Just nice, music for happy, well adjusted types.

‘This Side Of Paradise’ sounds like another light one. Spoken vocals. Oldsmobile. Sweet again. Nice again. Plain again. No edge, nothing infectious. I have no memory of this. I assume in a month’s time I will have no memory of this. Come on Bryan, ain’t you got another good’un in ya?

‘Not Romeo, Not Juliet’ opens with a jaunty piano and guitar duet. A little bit blues, a little bit country, a little bit rock. Now a little chorus with a little organ. He really loves his not-quite-ballads. This is basically the same song three times in a row. You can’t help but yawn. Still, I can’t really criticize it, it’s the sort of thing plenty people will enjoy – for me, it’s boring and inoffensive.

‘Flying’ is, cripes, it’s another ballad. This one feels better. Do people actually have sex (sorry, ‘make love’) all day? Wouldn’t you chafe? This is one for the candles and lighters and swaying arms. It’s better but still a little dull when compared with his bigger ballads.

‘She’s A Little Too Good For Me’ is faster, seems more upbeat. Still in lovey dovey ballad territory though. Woo, there we go. Drums. Decent lyrics. Reminds me of ‘Never Be Another Tonight’. This is good then – not quite good enough to make me sing its praises, but fun enough to make me want to listen again. Short too.

‘Open Road’ sounds like something from the last album. Up-tempo again. Driving song. Should have repeated that ‘on and on’ piece to enhance the bridge. Okay chorus. Two better songs then, three if we include ‘Flying’. Which we probably should. Lower grade hits are these  – songs to hide in your shuffle that will only pop out every few hundred songs to remind you that they exist. Still waiting for another song you want to have on your shuffle every ten songs.

I Was Only Dreaming‘ gets off into ballad territory, but immediately this one is much stronger. I actually like the brass just after the chorus. The verses are plain but they feel as if they are leading to something stronger, which they do – a good bridge, and a good chorus. Naturally, I like the strings and the whole arrangement is sound – this is more of an honest love song without being bogged down in sentiment or effort and as such is the best song on the album so far.

Right Back Where I Started From‘ opens with decent guitar, sounding more like the successful mid-nineties Adams stuff. It’s mid-tempo, gently rocks, but crucially it has clear melodies in the big chorus and fluttering through the verses. It feels like a happy, fun song and continues the increase in quality in the album’s second half.

Nowhere Fast‘ feels like another decent song. It’s another love song, because of course it is. But the melodies are there – verse, bridge, chorus – all good. Again it feels honest, and nothing is strained or forced. Nice little middle break for a few moments too.

Why Do You Have To Be So Hard To Love‘ starts off like a slow country ballad, little flutterings of piano and subtle guitar licks. A little bit of string in there too. It’s sweet enough, a nice one for a swaying dance though I’m not sure if the lyrics really qualify for such close quarters. This is a song about frustration so it would be better suited to some romantic drama where the woman throws a mug at the guy and the guy sits alone at a bar while some temptation slides up beside him. And then it’s over fairly quickly, a good choice rather than dragging the song out, so quite good overall.

Blessing In Disguise‘ is.. ugh… he’s just gone full country. I just don’t like this whole sound, never have. Uppy downy guitar, honky tonk piano and the same melodies you’ve heard since Billy The Kid was cruising the bars in the Old West. Okay, it does end up more like a blues country song by the end, but it’s just the opposite of everything I like.

Well, that final song sure dampened things after they were picking up. The album got off to a poor, slow start abut things improved around halfway. There is a terrible reliance on ballads and too many of the tracks lack ambition or stand out enough from their brethren present or past. There’s a few songs here that I’d gladly listen to again that I wasn’t previously aware of, but it isn’t an album I’d recommend from Adams and until I’m more familiar with the few good songs I couldn’t recommend those over other more obvious picks from his back catalogue. Still, it’s interesting to see the direction he went in for this album and I’m interested to see if his follow-up 11 follows in this vein. I don’t have high hopes for that one, but maybe we’ll get a few surprises.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Room Service!