Way back in 2012, the a little band called Night Flight Orchestra issued an under-the-radar gem called Internal Affairs. Despite having members from two past-their-prime metal bands (Soilwork & Arch Enemy), the music recalled the golden age of ’70s radio rock with passion and quality. Internal Affairs was an absolute blast to listen to, and we at AMG rightly hailed it as a Thing We Might Have Missed (it also made my Top 10ish that year). Fast forward three years, we get word that NFO has released their follow-up, Skyline Whispers…a few days ago. We missed them twice!! (shakes fist at sky).
Anyways, Skyline Whispers opens with “Sail On,” a fist-pumping, somewhat garage-y number that scratches your vintage rock itch, as is expected. Fair enough. From that point on, though, NFO fucks with the space-time continuum even more by channeling what 1970’s-era bands sounded like…in the ’80s. “Living For The Nighttime” is a prime example, with its pulsing keyboard loop and Journey/Foreigner fist-pumping action. This leads into the so-cheesy-it-can’t-be-real “Stiletto,” which veers dangerously into Aldo Nova territory. The fact that this ode to high heels is being sung by the same guy from Steelbath Suicide amuses me greatly.
Speaking of vocals, Bjorn Strid has upped his game significantly on NFO‘s second outing. His performances here are more bluesy and soulful than on Internal Affairs, in a David Coverdale sort of way. And he’s addressed the complaint I heard most often about the debut — “he’s not singing high enough!” — by sprinkling the record with plenty of scrotum-bursting falsetto screeches. If hearing “the guy from Soilwork” attempt this style three years ago was surreal, hearing him finally succeed at it is even more so.
David Andersson continues to provide top-notch guitar work, authentic in tone and well-versed in the lengthy history of rock music. He even throws in a few surprises, including the flamenco guitar on “Spanish Ghosts” (why do all songs with Spanish guitar have to be about Spanish stuff?! Stop it!) But this time around, keyboardist Richard Larsson steals the spotlight on more than one occasion. The dusky synths that kick off “I Ain’t Old, I Ain’t Young” recall the slow jams of the early ’80s, and his keys on the title track say more than any lyrics ever could.
Lyrically, the Orchestra‘s main themes remain the same: travel, partying, and of course, women. Strid pledges his devotion to several females throughout the album, many of whom have stripper-sounding names (see “Lady Jade,” which recalls Deep Purple at their funkiest). On the Steppenwolf-meets-Badfinger anthem “All the Ladies,” the band explores the subtle differences between actually being a rock star and merely having the chicks think you are one.
The 10-minute finalé “The Heather Reports” strongly implies that our narrator finally finds true love with someone named Heather. Whoever she is, she must be special, since the band pulls out all the stops here. Homages to everyone from Wings to Santana to Chinatown-era Thin Lizzy lurk within this massive track, and while it’s not exactly cohesive by nature, it’s an ultimate statement of intent.
Skyline Whispers isn’t exactly the logical next record for a band like Night Flight Orchestra; it’s more of a logical fast-forward to 3 or 4 albums after that. By splitting the difference between 70’s muscle and ’80s cheese, it recalls a very specific era in music, a time of Trans-Ams and tiny shorts and tall white socks with stripes on them (oh, and probably lots of cocaine). Every track on this record reminds me of the scene in Boogie Nights where Dirk Diggler tries to sell fake drugs to Alfred Molina, and coming from me, that’s a glowing compliment. To put it more bluntly, Skyline Whispers is probably more fun than whatever you’re listening to right now, and you should give it a spin immediately.
Websites: Facebook.com/NightFlightOrchestra (seriously, that’s all they got)
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 06.09.2015