Thunder: Wonder Days (EMI)
After a 7 year wait and numerous sporadic reunions the fans of the mighty Thunder finally get what we have been waiting for; the tenth studio album from the rockers from London.
On hearing the first single and title track of the new album I was initially left a little apprehensive as to how the new album will turn out. Wonder Days, although a grower isn't exactly what was expecting for a first single. Despite containing the usual patented Thunder ascending descending riffs and sudden simple, yet impactful rock breakdowns, it just seemed to lack the usual bounce and edgy fun the Thunder singles have come to represent. Moving onto the next track from the album The Thing I Want and the spring in Thunder's step returns, filled with bouncy bass and lead riffs the lyrical edge also makes a come back. Thunder have always had the power to find the line between smut and fun… The Thing I Want epitomises this. The Rain and Black Water slow the pace of the album down but with a bit of style. The Rain is a soft and delicate ballad, which brings Danny Bowes vocals to the forefront (this is never a bad thing). Allowing Danny to show that he can still reach either end of the musical scale with little effort, The Rain combines these talents with a delightful backing and a song that is a beautiful metaphor for hope and strength. Black Water maintains the slower pace of the album, however this time with a more recognised Thunder rock brand. Luke Morley treats us to a few brief but unyielding solos that just bring a smile to your face.
The Prophet is the next offering and personal favourite as it combines everything I love about Thunder from the past, with a slightly modern twist. A powerful springy bass line runs straight through the heart of this track, intertwined with riffs that change pace to perfect timing. The Prophet is classic Thunder but a little more technical than they've been before… and it works. Chasing Shadows offers more of the same we found in The Prophet. It hooks you instantly with a great opening riff, again supported by a powerful swing like bass line form Morley. Bowes vocals once more show that they've not slipped an octave over the years in this track. Chasing Shadows really gets you hoping around the kitchen with your air guitar (this may or may not have actually happened). The London lads slow down the pace again with the second ballad on the album, Broken. A simple track that is basically a Thunder acoustic song that holds your attention due to its graceful nature. There is nothing complex here, just Bowes vocals supported minimally by a stripped down band until the song build to its heartfelt crescendo end... this really is a charming ballad. Wonder Years final tracks leave the album and its listeners in no two minds about what Thunder are all about. When The Music Played, Serpentine and I Love The Weekend are all choked full of crashing symbols high paced springy riffs and vivacious bass. These tracks are what Thunder are, and have been all about throughout their existence. Honest, unapologetic edgy rock that is just plain fun. It’s easy to hear, especially during I Love The Weekend, the fun that the guys are having.
Thunder have returned with an album that will more than keep the cult fans happy and jumping around the room while at the same time grabbing the interest of new listeners that have either never heard of the band before or have always jumped on the “Thunder aren't unique” band wagon. Be it on purpose or by sheer accident, the London gents have added a little more depth to their music in Wonder Days while standing firm in what they believe in… and I thank them for that! Despite all this the album does seem to miss a little oomph and volume in its production. Tracks such as The Prophet and I Love The Weekend seem to be held back in the production, when I know if set free they could be so much more. I have a sneaky suspicion that tracks like these will be presented in their full glory live, and I look forward to it as I can only imagine how good they will sound when let of the reigns. However, its is a damn shame that they have been almost gagged on the album through what can only be slightly lapse production. This aside, Thunder is back ladies and gentleman… and they show no sign of stopping! 8/10