Harmony Riley

Harmony Riley

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AllMusic Review by

Although partially comprised of Rick Nielsen's sons Daxx and Miles, there's little trace of Cheap Trick's crunchy pop-punk in the sound of Harmony Riley. But that's fine since, although Harmony Riley is not reinventing the rock wheel, the band gets the most from its traditional two-guitar/bass/drums lineup. Unconcerned with the trendy post-grunge that permeated the airwaves when this album was released, Riley's tough and tender rock sounds a little out of place but is refreshingly sincere. Occasionally, lead singer Miles aims for the Bono rafters, such as on the rousing "Falling Away." While that widens their approach, it doesn't mesh with their back-to-basics attitude, which is their strength. However, the band generally exudes a keen knack for melody and doesn't overshoot the target. "Let You Down" kicks off with solo piano notes before the group bursts in for a rousing finale, and the following "Everything" recalls an Elton John/John Lennon-styled sense of melody without falling prey to the power ballad curse. Tight, lean playing, especially from drummer Daxx on "It's Over Now" and "Hold So Tight," provides a solid foundation for these songs to build on. Even though there isn't much subtlety to the band's approach, Riley's sharp sense of dynamics, thoughtful arrangements, and ease with a catchy hook make its music rise above the pack. This is a strong debut from a promising band that seldom pushes its established boundaries but excels within them.

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