Erik Grönwall

Somewhere Between a Rock & a Hard Place

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Sometimes it's possible to figure out everything there is to know about a record from the basic facts concerning it. Case in point: Somewhere Between a Rock & a Hard Place, a debut by the handsome 22-year-old winner of Swedish Idol, and sporting a name that speaks for itself to boot. With these credentials, the album can be nothing but radio-friendly teen pop/rock, and the only thing to really ask about it is, it it good? To cut to the chase -- yes, it is, though it's also adorably dated: the shadow of Bryan Adams looms large here, Bon Jovi come a close second, and the rest of the hair metal romantics, such as Def Leppard, follow not far behind. Rock & a Hard Place is not metal -- this is where the Adams influence comes in -- but the guitars buzz convincingly and churn out catchy licks over larger-than-life harmonies like Perestroika never ended. Post-grunge bands took that sound and updated it in the late '90s, but Erik Grönwall loves it for what it is, and he's just young and enthusiastic enough to turn it into power pop that, while being nowhere near fresh, can make the audience forget they've heard it all before, just as Grönwall himself apparently does. The record is faithful to clichés not just in music, but in lyrics (as the song list readily demonstrates) and even album structure -- you find speedy rockers, songs supposed to be leading singles, power ballads, and filler pieces exactly where anyone familiar with even a handful of late-'80s albums would expect them to reside. But it also has big hooks, and honestly, with an album like that, this is all there's a point in asking for.

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