Off the Record

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After the international success of the self-produced "Fox on the Run," Sweet broke away from songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman in an attempt to shake their "pop puppets" and took a stab at conquering the hard rock album market. Sadly, a lot of their post-hit singles period output lacked the tight songwriting and hooks that made them famous, and this problem is in evidence on Off the Record. The band's musical approach seems schizophrenic on this album: songs like "Windy City" and "Live for Today" attempt a tough sound built on gritty lyrics and heavy guitar riffs, but this approach is undone by the overt slickness of the production, which tarts everything up with Queen-style harmonies and thickly-layered synthesizers that would feel more at home on a prog rock album. There is also an awkward attempt in creating a dance music track in "Funk It Up," which starts with a ham-fisted attempt at a funk rock groove and devolves into a series of repetitive disco-style chants. Despite this confused approach, some solid songs occasionally shine through: "Fever of Love" is a likable rocker built on an effective blend of guitars and synthesizers that sports a catchy chorus worthy of their hits, and "Midnight to Daylight" is a stomping rocker that sports heavy riffs worthy of Black Sabbath. However, moments like these are few and far between on Off the Record, making this an album that's only really suited to Sweet completists.

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