After 1984's Vital Signs netted Survivor three Top 20 singles, the bandmembers knew that they would have to come up with something of equal or greater value upon their next release. Unfortunately, 1986's When Seconds Count failed to do either, although the album did give Survivor their last Top 40 hit with the synth-driven "Is This Love" in November of that same year. Only Jimi Jamison, Frankie Sullivan, and Jim Peterik made up the band at this point, and a handful of session musicians had to be hired in order to complete the album. The result was a harder, more streamlined approach to their music, shedding Survivor of their past pop/rock sound for the most part. Other than "Is This Love," cuts like "Man Against the World" and "How Much Love" sound the firmest, with the band focusing more on melody and on an appealing song structure. But the bulk of When Seconds Count comes off hurried and overlooked, evident in shoddy efforts like "Rebel Son," "Oceans," "Keep It Right Here," and "In Good Faith." Although Survivor opted for the more aggressive pop/rock avenue, the material on When Seconds Count doesn't exactly comply with the group's chosen formula, unlike the smoother-sounding Vital Signs or even 1983's Caught in the Game. The album itself would have benefited by the inclusion of "Burning Heart," which was released on the Rocky IV soundtrack a year earlier but became Survivor's second-highest-charting single. The album that followed, 1988's Too Hot to Sleep, is more consistent, with sharper songwriting and sturdier musicianship the whole album through. When Seconds Count isn't a total write-off, but the better tracks can be heard on any of Survivor's hits packages.
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AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne