A sleek, hooky exposition of grade A songwriting and performance...
I like Vega. Always a riot of good times live, they have never, to my old ears at least, quite translated what they do on the boards into quite such a fun time when the listener is sat on his or her own, possibly without the help of alcohol, at home in front of the stereo.
Who We Are goes some way to redressing that imbalance. There’s a spark about this album – maybe ignited by the use of Harem Scarem alumnus Harry Hess in the control room, who knows? – that they just haven’t had before, meaning that tracks like the incendiary opener Explode and the infectious Every Little Monster absolutely erupts from the speakers and have you singing along within seconds.
Ballad Nothing is Forever is an epic, epic, mashup of Dream Theater and Queen that will, without exception, have you considering downloading that lighter app for your phone if you don’t already have it. The songwriting Martin brothers have absolutely hit the motherlode with this one. Generation Now, despite being a completely different style of song, isn’t far behind it in the quality songwriting stakes though, and if truth be told you’re never ever more than about two and a half minutes away from a spine-tingling chorus or hook wherever you put the needle on the record.
In fact, everyone puts in a career-best performance on Who We Are; Guitarist Marcus Thurston delivers some great solos, and Nick Workman, who I don’t think has ever really been captured properly on tape before, really comes into his own with the vocals on this record. Again, maybe the benefit of having a fellow singer twiddling the knobs? I think it might be.
White Flag is another winner, although it’s not so much an AOR track as what comes before it, proving that Vega are able to insert a more modern edge to their tracks when the spirit moves them. Thurston’s chiming, ringing guitars give the song the sort of ‘big rock’ feel of bands like U2 or, dare I say it Coldplay, without ever surrendering the hard edge we love to hear. It’s dramatic, it’s ambitious, but most important it’s got a killer chorus you’ll be subconsciously humming for days after only a couple of listens.
It’s perhaps silly to say that this is a coming of age record, but with Who We Are Vega have definitely proved that they are ready to bust out of the sometimes-too-cosy melodic rock ghetto and cross over to a wider world and a more mainstream audience. They definitely deserve to.