The Outfield’s new album Replay leaves me feeling like I’ve heard it before. Replay is a pop-prog mashup taking cues from the ultra processed power sound that The Police and Yes employed to chart topping perfection in the early 80s (and that Rush has adopted to lesser effect since the early 90s). The tunes here are more musically complex than the hits you remember, “Your Love” and “Say It Isn’t So”, from their triple platinum release Play Deep from 1985. But all the processing and post-production work makes this album a bit predictable after hearing just a few tracks.
Replay is very much driven by the high tenor vocals from frontman Tony Lewis. He might have lost a note in range since the 80s, but he had an astoundingly high range to begin with. Compressed and phased vocal harmonies are featured on almost every track. The musicianship of the performers is impeccable. Still, I yearn for more soul than the thick audio processing permits.
The track “California Sun” opens with a capella harmonies, much like 90125’s “Hold On”. The basic guitar riff starts immediately after the harmonies and repeats for nearly the whole song. I’d prefer this tune go somewhere, rather than just repeating the same riff and working in layered instrumentation at the end. “Call It Out” sounds like an outtake from Synchronicity: Andy Summers-style ringing chords with jangly delay, a decending vocal line, and a little alt-beat break in the middle.
The album continues in similar fashion, with the exception “Shake Your Thing”: it works hard at being a stomping rock song, but still has a bit too much of the jangly-jangly to really jar anyone. “Shake your thing – like your momma did” sings the vocalist. I’m mainly left shaking my head. I still feel like I’ve heard it before.
Buy the album:
In reading your review, I agree with bits and pieces, and I don’t think you are totally off base in all aspects, but there are some things mentioned I felt were a bit off.
You mention the first single, “California Sun” and how the basic guitar riff goes throughout most the song. In thinking about Pop music, I often hear the same guitar riff throughout a majority of the song. I don’t particularly find that a detriment to the song. It reminds me of trying to learn how to play Beatles songs. The same chord progression over and over again is the signal of their style of music.
I also like how you compare “Call it Out” to an outtake off of Synchronicity. That was a fantastic album and The Outfield have been compared to the Police throughout their long standing career. I think it’s quite a compliment.
I shake my head hearing this music as well, but I think in a different way. It is the sound that I love, the pure pop, feel good, dance around your house while cleaning music that gets me moving through the day. It is actually right on my playlist along with my KDFDM, Nine Inch Nails and …yes. Britney Spears.
Maybe it is all the same. Then again, what music in this age is truly… different?
To whom ever reviewed this should, realize if you can do better let’s see what you can do!! As far as anybody is concerned, Tony hasn’t lost a note in his range, he’s not one of those artist who struggle to perform or sing. I feel as a long time fan that The Outfield doesn’t get the respect or reconition that they deserve. Jonn Spinks is without a doubt an awesome song writer & that’s not oppinion that’s a fact jack!!!!! I’ve been an Outfield fan since they’ve arrived on the seen & always will be until the day I die. One more thing, The Outfield’s music is a hell of a lot better then most artists who make crappy music today!!!!! Also they’re not predictable either……
I’ve only heard a few of the new songs and feel that they’re underrated. This band IS the sound of summer. Just like the Beach Boys were. Spinks Is writing simple sing along fun music. I don’t thnk john is writing songs to change the world. How complex can you be with a three piece band? How can you translate an overproduced song live? Tony’s voice hasn’t faded at all. It still sounds very crisp and he still has the range. To have Alan back on drums is a dream come true. This is the music of my generation. I can’t wait to hear the whole album.
I am 22 years old and was introduced to The Outfield’s music via classic rocks station in Los Angeles. Recently through itunes radio, I have heard the band’s new single ‘California Sun’. What I liked about ‘California Sun’ is that it sounded so DIFFERENT from anything else on the radio today. I then listened to the clips on The Outfield’s BandPage on Facebook and the preview tracks from RePlay sound so NEW and tightly constructed. I’m in a band, I play guitar, and it worries me that the music industry would turn its back on such talent? I have been excited about RePlay because I love the hooks, harmonies and apparent craftsmanship? I will reserve judgement until the album comes out, but this review surprised me. I hope your wrong on this one, because even though this band is old and past their prime, I thought I had found a gem in their new album. But to same more of the same? That’s the exact problem with band’s on radio today? ‘California Sun’ is a song I wish I would have wrote …. because it sounds so fresh and classic.
As a fan of music, I was surprised to see The Outfield had a new cd out. I hadn’t heard anything from them since 1990. I read this review and was disappointed to hear the album lacked any true moments. I almost let your review make my buying decision. Lucky I didn’t !!!! I went to the bands Facebook page and other fans were buzzing about the sound clips. So yesterday, I bought the album on itunes and was blown away!!!! Has Head Full of Noise heard the new albums by Journey, Night Ranger and Crowded House? The same bands from that era of chart success? They’re horrible albums that sound dated and uninspired musically. Not even original members in those bands. The Outfield’s new album is far and away the best album I have heard in this musical format in the last 5 years. I could pick at least 5 potential singles for radio off of Replay. It sounds nothing like their first fe albums but definitely maintains their sound. How could you guys review it as ‘more of the same’? I just felt Head Full of Noise missed this review … BIG TIME.
We appreciate all the feedback we’ve been getting about our review of the new Outfield album. That’s the funny thing about music. It strikes people differently. Personally, I hate country music but I love me some old Hank Williams SR. Other friends I know can’t stand him. We listened to the new Outfield a few times around the office and consensus was, it was more of the same. It’s not a horrible album (see Journey and the new Queensryche for that) but after a 20 year hiatus, one would think the band would have brought something new to the table. Unfortunately they didn’t.
20 year hiatus? ummm…
Anytime Now 2006
Extra Innings 1999
It Aint over 1998
and various compilation CDs too
Not exactly 20 years, and in the mean time they have toured, release new music while John was ill, and been there for their fans. Granted not everyone is going to like their stuff but the album was a good album and with a 15 year old kid that loves their music claiming Aladdin’s Cave is one of his favorite songs, it seems that it is indeed fresh enough that a new generation of fans is cropping up.
If you havent had your favorite food in 20 years, would you order something different? As other comments pointed out, the Outfield has a particular sound, and REPLAY has it in spades. Its a Bulls-Eye. Not since “VOB” have the Boys of Summer hit their stride like this. REPLAY is unmistakenly vintage Outfield in 2011.
I completely disagree with your review, this is an phenomenal album, pure Outfield, as its best works. *****
Garbage review. Go check out the music… Outfield fans will love it.
Though it’may be “more of the same,” that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that they could still produce the sound many admire is impressive. I agree with you that it is a bit overproduced, and I would have preferred a more raw sound here. I also agree with you about your take on “California Sun”… BUT there are some really good songs on this release that capture the spirit of their yesteryears while remaining fresh… “Long, Long Time Ago” is one of the best I’ve heard them do, plus “The Process” and “In Your Company” are solid as well. Is it their best album? Nope. Is it a bad album? Not even! I’m just happy they made this before they passed on… We are lucky for it and I’m so grateful they carried on…