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11.12.11

Beggars And Thieves - 'We Are The Brokenhearted' (frontiers) 4.5/5

New York rockers Beggars and Thieves have been around for a while now, although they haven't always had the best sense of timing, they arrived on the world stage just at the time when the world and his wife were going grunge crazy and attempted a come back at the height of the Nu Metal revolution. The result was their distinctive brand of prog influenced melodic hard rock just was never right for the time and they seamed destined to remain firmly in the also ran camp. However Louie Merlino and his crew are a persistent bunch, and at times persistence can pay off. So when they issued a low profile ep to great acclaim last year it looked like this time the world may take a bit more notice of the band, so as a result we have 'We Are The Brokenhearted' their fourth full length studio offering, and the first full album in 12 years.

Now I've been living with this one for a few weeks now and I've been meaning to review it for a while; but you know how things go, you sit down to start typing, the phone rings or something else crops up that demands immediate attention and you put it off for another few days... but when this has happened I've tended to leave the album playing in the background, and I've grown really fond of it as a result.

The over all sound is a very ear friendly blend of old school melodic hardrock that sounds not unlike Warrant meets Magnum; poppy prog in the It Bites, Asia style and even a slice or two of early U2 / Simple Minds / Energy Orchard type of celtic influenced stadium rock. all in all a nice and diverse blend of influences and styles that sit together nicely and make for a damn good listen.

There are some damn fine personal musical performances on show here, Mr Merlino has a great voice, it's natural sounding, mid ranged and very distinctive. There's none of that cliched power wailing or screamed high notes that singers in this genre are often suckered into - here's a guy who knows his own voice and uses it to maximum effect. The guitars of Ron Mancuso are a real joy to listen to, there no over the top hysteronics, just some very nice playing that ranges from some soulful and beautifully under played acoustic lines to some tasteful melodic lead lines that Floyds Dave Gilmore would be proud of. Add in the rhythm section of former Left for Dead Stickman Bobby Borg and bassist Phil Soussan returning from his various outings with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol and Dio and you have a well tasty line up capable of peddling some first rate, intelligent rock music.

Picking individual highlights from this one is tough, the whole album is damn good, but I have a big soft spot for Midnight Blue, a great hardrock number which resolves into a very tasteful piano lament at the end. Then there's the title track that sounds a bit like Simple Minds jamming with Bruce Springstein, turns into an air punching anthem to die for and ends up going sort of left field jazz at the end; and then there's Oil & Water a prog rock influenced little number that wouldn't sound out of place on a classic Pendragon album - complete with a Nick Barret style solo. Or how about Seven Seconds with its sleaze rock riffage and Paul Toner (Energy Orchard) style guitar bridge section....

...I could go on, but don't wanna give you a full track by track breakdown (it annoys me when reviewers do that - I like to give a few pointers and let the listener explore the record for themselves), but I will say I don't think there's a single weak moment on show here, this is a great record and if there's any justice in the world it will be the record that after all these years will show the world what a great band Beggars and Thieves are.


Well worth checking out.

For fans of... Simple Minds, Warrant, Boston, Pendragon, Queen...etc

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