The Night Flight Orchestra


Written by: AP on 30/11/2020 19:59:16

As airline fleets across the world were largely grounded and travel came to a virtual standstill in response to the novel coronavirus taking on a pandemic character earlier this year, it was a kind of solace that, at the very least, everyone’s favourite flight crew, The Night Flight Orchestra, had just taken off on the wing of their fifth and latest studio album “Aeromantic”. Considering that both vocalist Björn ‘Speed’ Strid and bassist Sharlee D’Angelo also have commitments to their primary bands (Soilwork and Arch Enemy, respectively), it is remarkable the pace at which this side-gig of theirs continues to pump out nostalgic records in tribute to the AOR format — but we should be grateful for their work ethic, for there is nothing that lightens the mood quite like their melodramatic, yet supremely infectious brand of rock music. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but it sure feels to me like our moods could use a proper booster right about now, given the dire state of the world. As if on cue, “Aeromantic” is thus here to help your thoughts to a better place!

The above must be one of the most ridiculous preambles I have ever written to an album review, yet it feels appropriate in the context of this band. Those familiar with their past output, including 2018’s “Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough”, will no doubt agree that while The Night Flight Orchestra certainly comes across as a pretty polished and serious undertaking, it is above all a whimsical love letter to guilty pleasures from the ‘70s and ‘80s — to vocalists who sang much too grandiosely, to lyrics that were much too histrionic, and to instrumentals that were much too theatrical to be taken seriously beyond the commercial airwaves even back then. Metalheads have always had a weakness for putting this stuff on the jukebox after a couple of beers, but Strid and D’Angelo went a step further and created an entire concept band around the music. It is pretty ironic that the project should be putting out better records than either Soilwork or Arch Enemy’s recent output, but at least on the basis of “Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough” and this latest outing, this is exactly what is happening. Indeed, like its predecessor, “Aeromantic” keeps to a high standard throughout its 54-minute runtime, to the extent that it is nigh impossible to single out a track that does not stick like superglue after just one listen.

The album opens with the brilliant “Servants of the Air”, a bassy, arcade-like synth line by the now ex-member Richard Larsson liaising with marching snare drums courtesy of Jonas Källsbäck to build up tension, before the pace picks up and the whole thing transforms into glorious a proto-metal piece complete with crooning Eurovision vocals by Strid and naturally a sparkling keyboard solo to finish it off. It is the sort of song that lends credence to the idea that this band would have taken the charts by storm 20 to 30 years ago with their sharp songwriting and penchant for creating an irresistible hook. The entire album in fact plays like a Greatest Hits collection from that era, with virtually every one of its 12 tracks sticking to the classic ABABCB formula and packing superb melodies and snappy choruses galore. Of course it is a prerequisite that one has a certain soft spot for cheese in order to appreciate the material on offer here — but if you are willing to surrender to the idea that music does not need to be so highbrow all of the time, you will have a raucous time dancing and singing along to songs like “This Boy’s Last Summer” with its pumping disco beat, “Curves” with its uproarious porn groove, “Transmissions” with its heartwarming odes to Abba and A-ha, and the unforgettable “Dead of Winter” in which the two back-up singers Anna-Mia Bonde and Anna Brygård deliver an inspired performance together with Strid to send the track blazing away like the very best of Europe’s output.

When you are having fun, creativity has a habit of flowing out of you — this seems to be the primary impetus behind the productivity and consistency of The Night Flight Orchestra. “Aeromantic” is a light hearted, yet exquisitely written piece of rock music for the radio waves. It keeps to the high standard set by its predecessor and honestly, it would not be surprising if Strid & D’Angelo soon dedicated the brunt of their time for developing The Night Flight Orchestra instead of sustaining their respective day jobs on life support. At the very least, recent years have taught us that the successor to “Aeromantic” cannot be very far away from its arrival — but even if it were, there is more than enough gold on this latest offering to pass the time with for months to come.


Download: Servants of the Air, This Boy’s Last Summer, Transmissions, Dead of Winter
For the fans of: Boston, Europe, Foreigner, Journey, One Desire
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.02.2020
Nuclear Blast

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