Compatriots of hard rock outfits Lordi, Apulanta, and Lovex, Finnish quartet Sunrise Avenue have never really gained the same respect as their peers, largely thanks to their boy band-ish image and arena-sized pop choruses more suited to the stages of Eurovision than Ruisrock. Their third album, Out of Style, is unlikely to change matters, as the string-soaked nursery rhyme melodies of "Stormy End" and the faux-emotive piano-led "Somebody Help Me" are the kind of "lighters in the air" ballads you'd expect from a Westlife record, while the Nickelback-lite closer "Sweet Symphony" and the banjo-plucking midtempo "Kiss Goodbye" are both blessed with overblown hair metal solos that suggest the band is stuck in a mid-'80s time warp. However, with Jukka Immonen joining regular collaborator Jukka Backlund on production duties, the remaining seven tracks showcase a newfound sense of invention, with convincing forays into electro territory on the driving new wave-inspired "Damn Silence," which owes more than a nod to the Killers' "Human," and the gothic synth-driven "I Don't Dance" joining the band's apparent guide to the ages of rock with songs tackling '70s glam (the chugging bass-heavy "Out of Tune"), '80s post-punk (the spiky "Sex and Cigarettes"), '90s nu metal (the frantically paced "I Gotta Go"), and 2000s post-grunge (the Puddle of Mudd-esque "Angels on a Rampage"). Lead singer Samu Haber's gruff and impassioned vocals remain the band's finest weapon, although some variation to his constant relationship-themed lyrics would be welcome, while the band sounds tighter than ever, blustering its way through the highly charged emo-pop of opener "Hollywood Hills" while tenderly providing a sense of melancholy to the R&B-tinged "The Right One." Out of Style shows enough potential to suggest the band could shake off its bubblegum pop tag in the future, but judging by its title, and that of its predecessor, Popgasm, credibility doesn't seem to be Sunrise Avenue's main concern.
Out of Style Review
by Jon O'Brien