It's interesting how an album cover and band name can prime pre-listening expectations... which are so often thwarted. And this is certainly not what I expected. Just what did I anticipate hearing? Something far more contemporary, innovative and edgy. Alas, 'Change Your Mind', the latest album from this French act, is steeped in retro rock flavours. A glance at their bio reveals they were "noticed by their covers of the mythical group AC/DC"... so the retro underpinnings are wholly explicable by their roots, which they evidently haven't progressed too far from.
The retro vibes on 'Change Your Mind' run deep. In fact, some of the best moments on the album are when Electric Ducks wholly embrace the nostalgic rock motifs they're so indubitably influenced by and fully indulge in their retro sways with unashamedly passionate pastiche. 'Charming Man' is one such example - a great little up-tempo, stomping rocker with some quirky interludes. Then again, 'Who Belongs to My World' has a strong retro kick although, apart from some nice vocal harmonies and rocking grooves, it makes less of an impact. At times, it feels a little too much like Electric Ducks have allowed genre to dictate their songwriting. Tracks are a little too paradigmatic; loaded with a plethora of 70s-styled idioms.
That said, it's still a fun ride. Constans Guilhem's voice is great; his voice is befitting of the retro instrumentations, and he has quite a decent range. There are some nice bass lines throughout... cheeky little runs here and there that elevate songs in all the right places. Guitar-wise, the no-frills soloing and rhythm work is competent enough, although could do with being more inventive in places (and the general tone, particularly for all lead playing, would sound better if a tad 'warmer'). What's rather peculiar is that two guitarists are credited on the press sheet, although this doesn't equate to the four band members featured in the couple of pictures within the digipak... strange! And the drums are okay... nothing flashy, but they don't need to be within the context of Electric Ducks' unchallenging musical affiliations.
The album's standout track, for me, is the 'The Plan', which has some nice guest vocals, courtesy of Chrystal Leigh. It's a great duet she sings with Guilhem, over a funked-up instrumentation that provides a refreshingly different blast within context of the rest of album. Three bonus songs also feature after the core tracklist, but these are only radio edits of 'Something in Your Eyes', 'Odd Hours' and 'Safe Place'. Regardless of their inclusion, I'm not entirely sure of their purpose in the first place, seeing as they're pretty short in their unedited forms - two of them at well under four minutes, and the other is just over four and a half minutes. 'Odd Hours', for example, has no discernible profanity to edit out; rather, it loses around 20 seconds a short way into its intro. Was that really necessary? And all of the album's tracks are radio-friendly fodder, regardless.
If retro mimicry is your thing, with a few added quirks, then 'Change Your Mind' is the album for you. It's a well-produced, nice sounding record, with some decent, if generally uninspired, songwriting. A solid, bouncy rock effort that provides a quick fix of 70s-inspired tunes. Nothing more, nothing less.
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CHANGE YOUR MIND
Review by Mark Holmes
17th Nov 2017
1) Good Time in the City
2) Something in Your Eyes
3) Odd Hours
4) Drag a Confession
5) The Plan; 6) Safe Place
7) Charming Man; 8) The Fall
9) Who Belongs to My World
11) Something In Your Eyes (Radio Edit)
12) Odd Hours (Radio Edit)
13) Safe Place (Radio Edit)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"The retro vibes on 'Change Your Mind' run deep. In fact, some of the best moments on the album are when Electric Ducks wholly embrace the nostalgic rock motifs they're so indubitably influenced by and fully indulge in their retro sways with unashamedly pasionate pastiche."