Any style of music, no matter how resolutely unfashionable, has its practitioners and passionate fans. Still, it's strange to think that '80s style AOR/hard rock is, in 2006, the same kind of fringe genre as '50s rockabilly or Appalachian dulcimer music, practiced by an ever-dwindling number of artists for a steadfast but shrinking audience. Bands that sound like former superstars like Night Ranger or Survivor are now recording exclusively for tiny foreign labels selling mostly over the internet and at club gigs, and new bands in the style are usually new combinations of members of old bands in the style. Which brings us to Ambition. Starring lead singers Thom Griffin (Trillion), Joe Vana (Mecca), and Jean-Michel Byron (singer in a post-stardom lineup of Toto) and shepherded by Italian label Frontiers Records (which has become the Norton Records of '80s pop/rock), Ambition's self-titled debut album feels like it was assembled by a computer programmed to distill the play list of the average FM radio station circa 1984 into one 50-minute album. The ultra-clean production showcases Tommy Denander's tastefully chorused guitar parts under the anonymous trio of lead singers, with producer Fabrizio Grossi's own synth lines adding an occasional hint of Signals-era Rush. Since the album is clearly aimed directly at the likes and dislikes of existing fans of the style, Ambition take care to color entirely within the lines. With nothing unexpected or unusual to mar the album's smooth surfaces, Ambition sounds glossy but hollow; when the album's best song is a cover of a minor single by Mr. Mister ("Waiting in My Dreams"), that's all the proof necessary of the essential vapidity of the exercise.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason