Wednesday 20 March 2024

Lipz - Changing the Melody (2024)

Country: Sweden
Style: Glam Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 15 Mar 2024
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | YouTube

Lipz have been around since 2011 but it took them a while to get an album out, Scaryman not arriving until 2018. I haven't heard that one, but I've heard tracks from this, their follow-up, on Chris Franklin's joyous Raised on Rock radio show. They're on Frontiers now and, for some reason, that label is calling this heavy metal. It isn't close to heavy metal, even if there are hints of Shout at the Devil-era Mötley Crüe on the opener, I'm Going Under, as that buzzsaw riff is straight out of Looks That Kill. This is far closer to the smooth glam rock that Tigertailz played on songs like Livin' without You, shorn of the early punk influence but before they got a little edgier on later albums.

While I'm Going Under is probably my favourite song, it's not a particularly representative one. I would suggest that the title track is far more typical of the rest of the material here, featuring a more subdued guitar and a more obvious melodic rock outlook. Its bombastic chorus seems right out of melodic rock, merely put through a sleaze filter, and that seems to be what Lipz are aiming for with these songs. They want to play melodic rock with strong melodies and huge choruses but to sleaze it up with a glam rock look and feel, so that there's an edge to it all.

There are a few songs that take a slightly different approach. While the focus is always on vocals and huge choruses, for instance, the guitarists do get work to do. There's that underpinning Crüe riff on I'm Going Under and more eighties glam metal guitar throughout I'm Alive, the closest on this album that Lipz get to that heavy metal tag Frontiers is using. Freak could have been a glam metal ballad back in the day, kicking off with a tasty slow blues guitar solo, but it's a heavier song here. The real ballad is I Would Die for You, which dips all the way into tinkling ivories, and it's the song where Alexander Klintberg sounds the most female.

He isn't, because he's one of the twin brothers at the heart of this band, and he sounds like a male glam rock singer across most of the album, but he gets very delicate here. It's worth mentioning to anyone new to the band that, while he was a founding member of Lipz, he never intended to be its lead singer. He's one of those two guitarists, the other being Conny Svärd, and he only took up mike duties when they couldn't find a singer who could do the job they wanted. Fortunately, he did step up and the rest is history, because it's hard to imagine this band with a different singer now.

The rest of the band are capable too, with mention here for Chris Young on bass as the remaining musician I haven't credited yet, but this isn't really about musicianship. Sure, they do the job but the job doesn't call for virtuoso theatrics. It calls for capable, albeit tight playing that underpins the lead vocals and the melodies, and that's what these musicians deliver. And, in turn, what that means is that the best songs here are the ones that stick in our head the most. The good news is that there are earworms all over the album.

The chorus in I'm Going Under is catchy, but the chorus in Changing the Melody is a real earworm and it's far from the last. Bye Bye Beautiful and Monsterz have notable earworm chorus as well, while Stop Talking About Nothing and Secret Lover are earworms right out of the gate. The latter is surely the most Tigertailz influenced song here, enough so that I had to remind myself that the chorus is "(Na Na) Secret Lover" rather than "(Na Na) Nukklear Rokket", with a heck of a lot more than two nas for audiences to get behind. This is a gift for audience participation.

So is this glam rock cleaned up to play in the realm of melodic rock or is it melodic rock with sleazy glam rock elements? Given the look, I'd lean towards the former, but it doesn't really matter. The expected audience might be a little different, but there's a huge overlap and Lipz will meet what fans of either approach would expect in the music, which is where it matters the most, regardless of what melodic rock aficionados are likely to think of their make-up and stage attire. No wonder Chris is playing them.

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