Falcon (Ex- Circle) - Frontier [Ektro Records - 2013]Falcon(Ex- Circle) is the new project from the minds behind Finish multi-genre lined locked rock groove project Circle. And with this new project(or new version of Circle?!), they focus in their love of all things synth-laden AOR/ 80’s cheesy rock based, into a debut album that captures the sonic vibe & spirit of the spandex lined & day-glow tipped pop metal/ anthemic brainless AOR.
I’ll have to admit the first four or five plays of this left me somewhat puzzled & slightly underwhelmed; you see over the last few years Circle (and their various off shoots like Pharaoh Overlord) have adding in more 80’s pop/rock & AOR elements to their sound, but they have always kept a foot in the more experimental, krautrock tinged, and creative sound making too. With Frontier, all edger, odd and off-kilter elements have been cut away from the sound, and we are left with a collection of short ‘n’ sharpe tracks(none of them run above the three to four minute mark) which mimic the most clichéd, cheesy, and often contrived elements of late 70’s to early 80’s pop rock/ AOR craft.
Each of the ten tracks is embossed with jaunting ‘n’ soaring 80’s synth lines, layered with thin & compacted pop rock guitar textures, and tipped with simple & often synth tinged drum elements. All of this is topped with vocals that sort of focus in on fairly safe ‘n’ approachable singing that brought to mind a meeting between a euro-sized mix of up-beat Robyn Hitchcock, Richard Butler (of The Psychedelic Furs), and your standard 80’s US pop rock vocalists.
Anyway I persevered with the album, after my initial disappointment, and while it’s still far from a masterpiece, Frontier has started to grow on me. I guess the thing is you’ve got to take it as it is, it’s not another Circle or Pharaoh Overlord release- it’s plain and simple a 80’s AOR/ pop rock album, and nothing more.
I still find a few tracks here a little grating & bland, but on the whole this is an enjoyable release, and there certainly are a few highlights that I enjoy. And these come in the form of the opening track “Ranger”, which mixers together rocking yet slick AOR guitar work, mean ‘n’ moody yet cheesy banks of atmospheric 80’s synth work, and low budget 80’s sci-fi movie influenced lyrics.
The synth tipped pounding 80’s rock groove of “Vegas Sunset”, which moves from mixers of dramatic soundtrack piano chops & locked down rock grooves. Onto pumping ‘n’ moody mixers of rising synth banks ‘n’ guitar riffing that’s topped vocoder shadowed dramatic male vocals.
The cheesy 80’s teen love themed rock synth vibe of “Seasoned Girl”, which weaves together thumbed & light guitar work, with tuneful 'n' riseing keyboards, and clichéd (yet amusing) love angst lyrics.
So really it’s dependant on what angle you come to this release at, on how much your going to enjoy/get it…if you are a long term fan of all things Circle related- be warned this doesn’t really have any of the edge/ quirkiness/ or experimental moments you’d expect. But if you’re a fan of retro 80’s pop rock , AOR, or cheesy Synth heavy lite rock music, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.