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Pretty Maids – Motherland

Label: Frontiers
Format: CD
Released: 2014
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 7.5/ 10


They're not pretty, they're not maids, and they're not all in a row. They are, however, Danish veterans of the 1980s metal scene, persisting into the 20-teens and stubbornly resisting their one-hit-wonder label (and what a great hit that was. . .). Admirably, Pretty Maids have never stopped since their major scene impact of ‘Future World’ in 1987, releasing albums more consistently than many of their higher-profile peers. "Motherland" sticks to their strengths, weaknesses, and influences of old, never delving into current trends or straying from their mid-tempo, mid-heavy zone. I'm most reminded of Dokken and Aldo Nova when listening to this album.

 

The Good: The best of the tracks display a songwriting skill honed over decades, fusing European and L.A. tones and sensibilities with inventive, attention-wresting vocal melodies. There's real intelligence and social consciousness behind their craft for the best of these tunes. Highlights are: ‘Mother of All Lies’ and ‘To Fool A Nation’. Honorable mentions: ‘Iceman’, ‘Wasted’, and ‘I See Ghosts’.

The Bad: There's an excess of filler tunes, where all of the tools and skills so obviously at Pretty Maids' disposal are eschewed, in order to grind out formulaic, forgettable tracks you'll always skip past, in favor of the highlights.

The Ugly (no pun intended): The worst moment of the album is the intro to ‘Infinity’, which is derivative at best, derivative of the opening piano melody to ‘Let It Go’ from the Frozen soundtrack at worst (This album dropped before Frozen's release, so maybe Disney need to fess up?). Track 3, entitled ‘The Confession’, is a head-scratcher. . . Nearly two minutes of background music, behind a few spoken words; it feels like an overlong intro for ‘Iceman’. It's not awful, but it does disrupt the high bar set by the first two tracks, reclaimed to a lesser degree by ‘Iceman’, but then never fully recovered.

The result of all this is an uneven but respectable piece of work.

 
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