Monday 21 November 2022

The New Roses - Sweet Poison (2022)

Country: Germany
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 21 Oct 2022
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The New Roses seem to be insanely popular within New Wave of Classic Rock circles, which makes a lot of sense to me. It makes sense because their flavour of rock looks backwards with a scattershot approach to the history of rock, taking what they need at any point in time rather than emulating any particular band's sound. As a result, I keep hearing different moments that are clearly taken from this band or that band, without entire songs ever sounding derivative. The caveat to this, of course, is that there's nothing new here.

The base sound isn't really taken from any one band. It's just simple but effective riff-driven hook-laden high intensity arena rock. Whatever that long unpunctuated string of adjectives conjures up in your heads is probably pretty close.

The opening five songs probably cover the majority of the influences. My Kinda Crazy is anthemic commercial hard rock with AC/DC in the opening riff and Noddy Holder in the vocals. Playing with Fire is more of the same, but the riffing turns to seventies glam rock. We think we've heard these riffs before, but we probably haven't. The Usual Suspects brings in mainstream Def Leppard as an overt commercialisation of that AC/DC simplicity. Warpaint heavies up a little and adds a punkish attitude. And in the middle of that batch is All I Ever Needed, which lightens the mood a little and, in doing so, adds a country vibe.

I should explain that last bit, given that country seems to be the new enemy. This one isn't a ballad but it's on the way to being one and that plays up the roughness in the well named Timmy Rough's vocals. His vocal fry tends to be absorbed by the guitars in the harder rocking songs but, on softer ones like this, he ends up with a southern accent halfway between Bryan Adams and Jon Bon Jovi in Young Guns mode. That means country to me, a down home conversational tone, but it may have a different connotation to you.

The second half doesn't add much more to that list, but there's an outright ballad in True Love, an old school glam metal ballad with emotional vocals and acoustic guitars. This band generally has a high energy approach so we can almost see them pull up the barstools and sit down in a circle for a ballad like this one. There's also some overt pop punk in The Lion in You, which isn't that far a shift from simple but effective rock 'n' roll but far enough to be noteworthy.

Like last time out on their fourth album, Nothing But Wild, which came out three years ago, every song here is strong and, if you're into this style, it's going to seem like a killer of an album. It feels fair to complement them on the fact that there isn't a duff track across the twenty-four that span these two albums and I couldn't really call out a filler track either. That means that songwriting is a given for them and I hear they blister live too, which explains why they're such a pivotal NWoCR band, even surprisingly hailing from Germany rather the expected England. If you just want a good time from your rock bands, you'll absolutely get one from the New Roses.

All I have to throw out to counter that is that there's nothing new here at all, so people looking for imagination and originality aren't going to find it. Do we really need another power ballad in the True Love vein? No, we don't. Also, it's hard to pick out highlights, because all these songs do the business and then get out of the way for the next one. That, combined with the high intensity that the non-ballads thrive on, makes this seem like a short forty-one minutes and, after a few listens, I still couldn't list my favourite song. Maybe The Usual Suspects. Maybe Warpaint. My Kind of Crazy has a shot at that too. But really they're all the best song and the worst song at the same time and that's kind of who the New Roses are. You're either going to walk right on past them or they'll become your favourite band ever.

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