Perfect Plan – Time For a Miracle (Frontiers Music)

Perfect Plan – Time For a Miracle (Frontiers Music)

Earthshaking AOR brilliance from Sweden...

Swedes Perfect Plan barely dented the Sentinel Daily AOR consciousness (myself and reviews editor Gavin Strickmann) with first album All Rise from 2018; Just another mega-competent Scandi hard rock band trundling down the Frontiers Music production line, we thought.

And then Time For a Miracle popped into the inbox. WHOOAAHHH NELLYY! Pure, crystalline, AOR perfection, the like of which we’ve not seen since Survivor were in their pomp in the eighties. Songs like Heart To Stone achieve maximum dust-coat approval, riding in on the back of truly momentous, icy synths from Leif Ehlin, raunchy, up-front riffage from Rolf Nordström, muscular rhythmic pounding from drummer Fredrik Forsberg and bass-playing compadre Mats Byström.

Not to mention the voice.

Good God, the voice. These kind of albums live or die by the strength of their ballads, and this album’s first, is, quite frankly, the best I’ve heard since Survivor’s Across The Miles (from the superb 1988 album Too Hot To Sleep). Fighting To Win is the name of the track, Kent Hilli is the singer and I’m not overstating my case when I say that this song alone is worth the price of admission if you count yourself as an ardent AOR devotee. Repeated plays (and you will have this track on repeat, mark my words) detect no weaknesses, merely underlining the suspicion that Hilli may have the best AOR voice since Survivor’s Jimi Jamison, and certainly of the 21st century. When I looked out of my window to the bus stop below the Sentinel Daily office as this track boomed out of the fourth floor windows, grown men – strangers only minutes before – were standing arm-in-arm, vape sticks ablaze and swooning and punching the air at the majesty of it all – Fighting To Win is just that kind of track. And if you’re thinking of going into boxing training, this track is surely the tune to soundtrack slow-motion montages of yourself getting into shape against all the odds…

Every Time We Cry adds a bit more heft to the mix, but with the Heart To Stone and Fighting To Win it forms the core of rock-solid brilliance on which the rest of the album is founded. Hilli hits the high notes with room to spare (and genuinely, if Jim Peterik and Nordstever decide to get Survivor back together then Hilli is the man they need behind the mic if the evidence of tracks like this is anything to go by), Nordström adds a short-but-spinetingling solo – are you getting the picture yet?

The pub rocky Nobody’s Fool is potentially the album’s weak link, serviceable hard rock fun n’games in a sea of sophisticated songwriting suss, but even this isn’t exactly a stinker; Perfect Plan aren’t in the business of writing those in 2020. The second half of the album continues more or less where the first leaves off; What About Love is an anthemic rocker most other bands would kill to have in their repertoire, whilst the drama-laden Living on the Run again stirs the ghost of Survivor in the memory with a strength and passion it’s hard to deny if you’ve ever loved Chicago’s finest as I have…

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, of that I’m fully aware. But even if you think it won’t be, give stunning tracks like Don’t Blame It On Love Again a chance. If you remain unmoved, fair enough – but I bet you won’t… AOR album of the year and then some…

Time For A Miracle is out now.

Scott Adams
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