Thunder are now a British rock institution, having released 9 studio albums since their formation in 1989. They’ve survived grunge, splitting up twice and in guitarist Ben Matthews case a recent bout of cancer to release their 10th studio album.
Wonder Days is the first since splitting up in 2009 due to the pressures of the band members playing with various other bands and them self-managing their careers but in reality, the split didn’t last that long as there would be a “one-off” gig at the Download Festival in July of 2011 but this led to other “one-offs” before the announcement of a proper reunion in 2012. Have the band still got that magic in the studio? We had a listen to find out……..
The album opens with the title track which is a mid-paced rocker that sounds a bit like The Black Crowes through a British filter. Danny Bowes still possesses one of the finest rock voices ever to come from these shores – he’s that good. Following a strong opener is “The Thing I Want” and this early in the album, the signs indicate that the band is on form. Rhythm section Harry James and Snake Luckhurst have the bottom end locked down and make a blues based rock band swing a little – a tune you can dance to. “The Rain” has a country-ish feel, starting up with an acoustic guitar and – gasp – a mandolin. It seems that Thunder have a touch of Americana in mind with this opening. The full band makes an appearance after the second verse but this quieter song shows that they have some substance beyond any rock bluster. It’s good to hear that they’re not just locked into one style.
“Black Water” has a great opening riff and fairly stomps along with a touch of glam thrown in for good measure, the band definitely sound like they’re having fun with this one. In a complete change of style, the next song “The Prophet” could be accused of being the first slight mis-step on the album as it sounds like an homage to Led Zep’s “Achilles Last Stand” but Thunder just about get away with it as they’ve done it so well – I have to admit any thoughts of “hang on a minute, that’s a bit familiar” are banished with a tap of the foot and a big smile, on my part.
“Resurrection Day” sees them return to a more traditional (and original) sound. As you will know from my previous reviews, this has a lovely arpeggio – so I’m won over pretty early on in proceedings. It’s the closest thing to a ballad on here so far – the love song aspect isn’t as obvious as other ballads. “Chasing Shadows” is a return to the heavier stuff and is the first song that seems to be “ok” – perhaps a touch of filler, which is harsh considering the quality of the song but does indicate how good a band Thunder are and the standard of the album so far. “Broken” opens with a piano and is much more like a typical rock ballad as the band kicks in after the first verse. Another weaker track for this listener – have they run out of steam?? As always though – Danny’s voice means that Thunder can get away with “average”.
The next song “When The Music Played” is a good recovery – a cracking riff and guitar solo only taking things higher. Next up is “Serpentine” with one eye on some delta blues and is another really good song on album with plenty of highlights. The album finishes on a high with the upbeat boogie of “I Love The Weekend” – it’s a great ode to drinking and partying in general and comes with stand rock cries of “oh baby”.
Thunder are back and it’s great to have them here again on such good form. Cherish them while you still can.
Download - The Thing I Want, The Prophet Song & I Love The Weekend
Review by Adrian Grainger