Work Of Art - In Progress
Frontiers Records
Melodic Rock / AOR
12 songs (55:13)
Release year: 2011
Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

I've been listening to alot more angrier music lately. So much so that I was beginning to wonder if I still liked Melodic Rock and AOR. Well, hooray for me, I still do. In fact, Melodic Rock seems to have had a rather hefty resurgence in Europe and has spawned two main genres. There's the sleazy side of things that emulates 80's hair metal stereotypes but with slicker choruses and guitar work, and then there's the anthemic and slickly produced crowd that doesn't rely quite so much on outlandish looks or antics. Work Of Art definitely fits in the second category, however they are more on the Toto side of things rather than the near Power Metal of Pretty Maids. This means that each song is seemingly painstakingly crafted (who knows? while there's the possibility they just shit these out, I doubt it!) and drips of pure professionalism. That the band is essentially a trio makes this even more impressive. I'll say it until I'm blue in the face, singer Lars Safsund is one of the best pure voices I've ever heard and his voice and guitar dude Robert Sall's writing create pure melodic magic that neither can replicate outside of this band.

Since I consider myself a pretty ardent fan of Work Of Art, I'll just be upfront with it. Framework is probably the band's best album overall, but In Progress is the emotional favorite. What does that even mean? Well, since this is the sophomore album that the band never thought they would do, it sounds like they go all out and bring out the big guns for this release. There's also just a surging sense of optimism in every single song that comes from a band that again, never thought they'd release album number two so now they're just going for it. Even the ballads are hopeful ballads! Hooks are huge and run rampant over every single track. Speaking of ballads, there's four songs here that could be reasonably called ballads. Two of them are just way too schmaltzy. Until You Believe makes me think of that goddamn Zac Efron movie where he waits outside on some porch all week just so he can make an old man fall in love with him again. However, the other two ballads are extremely excellently executed and while they utilize "ballad" elements like piano and acoustic guitar, they do not swerve into shitty romantic dramedy land. Castaway is just kinda chunked out on the end of the record and it comes out of nowhere with its infectiousness. Since it starts off with sparse acoustic guitar and Lars singing, you might be led to believe that this is a b-side, junk song. As it progresses though, instruments are blended into the mix until finally the chorus explodes into your head and a repeat play is happening before you know what's going on. While being a ballad this contains a sense of urgent energy that propels it away from "shitty ballad" territory. That is rare as hell.

There's still plenty of rock songs here, I just had to comment on the irregularity of having four ballads and not getting a low score. Opener, The Rain, is one of those songs that would introduce someone into this genre in a fantastic way. It's upbeat, full of keyboards and soaring vocals, and then there's a monster guitar solo that makes people think of Eddie Van Halen and his melodic sensibility. Never Love Again brings to mind heavy Journey vibes with the keyboards. Uptempo ala Ask The Lonely, it is a potential crowd pleaser and despite the title, is not full of butthurt lyrically. While the rest of the rowdy rockers here would fall into the mid tempo area of the BPM chart, they vary enough between each of them so they have their own identity. Eye Of The Storm and Emelie can almost be lumped into the uptempo zone. Eye Of The Storm should be noted for its incredible backing vocals and harmonies.

There really is an almost overwhelming sense of positivity that emanates from In Progress. However I do feel the optimism here is neither misguided nor is it misplaced. Also, believe me, AOR is not the genre to play if you want to be "popular" or "cool." Just like Milhouse, nobody thinks AOR is cool. This stuff is for fans of the genre and In Progress is a glorious shining emerald gem that causes Kevin Garnett to score fifty points plus a game.

Killing Songs :
The Rain, Eye Of The Storm, Castaway, Fall Down, Emelie, Never Love Again
Ben quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Work Of Art that we have reviewed:
Work Of Art - Framework reviewed by Ben and quoted 91 / 100
Work Of Art - Exhibits reviewed by Ben and quoted 84 / 100
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