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The Thrill is Gone - 60%

raoulduke25, June 1st, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Independent (Amazon)

Philadelphia are yet another classic eighties band who decided to regroup and release a comeback album decades after their inception. This kind of endeavour rarely turns out well and statistically speaking, most people would be better off ignoring such efforts in favour of finding music from newer bands. However, there are cases where these comeback projects have yielded some amazing albums. Unfortunately, this is not one of those cases. To be fair, their sound hasn't changed much from their earlier works, and the production is leagues ahead of their early stuff, but as everybody knows, it takes a lot more than decent production to produce something memorable.

The album starts off well enough. The first track opens with a haunting intro played by a sole lead guitar that seems to set the mood for something different, and more importantly something interesting. But the thrill of possibly hearing something new is short lived, and you sort of get the feeling that there isn't much new going on here by the time the first riff comes in. This feeling of disappointment and general malaise pretty much lasts the entire album.

What I found most frustrating about this album was that it didn't need to be a forgettable album. With all the resources they had at their disposal, there seems to be no reason they couldn't have made something memorable. They had a better studio and better recording equipment, and they certainly took advantage of it. The production is crisp without being overly polished, and the final mix was well balanced. They also had a fantastic lead guitarist whose less-is-more approach to soloing was something I found to be quite welcome. In fact, I found myself really enjoying the lead portions of a lot of the songs that were otherwise unremarkable. Finally, they had plenty of solid material to work with. The two closing tracks are both longer than six minutes and both represent serious approaches to songwriting and they also happen to be a couple of the better tracks on the record. But those two tracks don't really make up for the bulk of the album which is mediocre at best.

The plainness of the album isn't the result of having adopted a more modern style. They still have their signature low-tempo, melodic approach to their riffs just like they did before. It's just that at the end of the day, nothing seems to have any depth at all. For all the complaints you could make about their first couple albums and the crumby production, those songs still had memorable melodies, and riffs and leads that you could sink your teeth into. This one just turns up short on every turn, and even though I wouldn't label anything on this record as explicitly bad, other than the guitar solos, I didn't find much to praise here.

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