Europe – Last Look At Eden

Last Look At Eden was an album that raised many eyebrows as rumors spread of Europe’s return to the rock fray. But how does a band that almost defined an era with one song go on from there? It seems with more freedom than you would expect. Maybe it’s just that they have matured, maybe they’re outlook and inspirations have changed or maybe the pressures of success have just changed.

The sound is polished but remains heavy and huge. Joey Tempest’s vocals sound strong and emotive and John Norum’s been given a freedom to express himself that gives the album real character. The rhythm section of John Levén and Ian Haugland provide a solid foundation for each song and Mic Michaeli’s keyboards effortlessly range from intimate to immense rounding out the overall feel of the album.

The brief symphonic ‘Prelude’ ushers in the sheer bombast of the albums title track. ‘Last Look At Eden’ is a statement of intent for the album and is a leviathan of a rock song. There are the mainstream hooks that you would expect but they have allowed other influences to creep into the mix. There are dirty bluesy riffs and the rhythms slide from free groove oriented beats in ‘Gonna Get Ready’, ‘Catch That Plane’ and ‘Mojito Girl’ to solid and urgent in the relentless number ‘The Beast’. ‘New Love In Town’ provides the real slowy of the album and ‘No Stone Unturned’ offers a slow anthemic chorus but with a little more bite.

The title ‘Only Young Twice’ has a certain James Bond quality to it and as the chorus climbs and dives it is reminiscent of some of the classic movie themes but with a real contemporary feel to the sound. ‘U Devil U’ continues the big chorus feel but uses a simple yet infectiously groovy verse. ‘Run with the Angels’ seems a stylistic contrast to the rest of the album but is not out of place more a change of pace. ‘In My Time’ a slow bluesy number brings the album to a close with style and it’s inclusion is a testament to the freedom from expectation they now have.

This album is not the pop or hair metal sound that the name Europe evokes. It feels however like an honest expression of where a band who once stood on top of the world are now, both musically and in their own lives.

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