Audacious harmonies, unbelievable guitar riffs, funky bass, and the Van Halen-meets-Queen sound can only mean one thing: Extreme is back! And with their first album since 1995’s sub-standard Waiting for the Punchline, the funk rock quartet has unleashed Saudades de Rock on a ravenous public.
After a few hiatuses and some brief reunions, Extreme reformed in 2007 with a new drummer (Kevin Figueiredo) to go with the original Pornograffiti line-up of vocalist Gary Cherone, bassist Pat Badger, and guitarist and god Nuno Bettencourt. Their first new record in 13 years finds the guys doing what they do best and sounding as taut and refined as ever.
The first listen may indeed be disarming, as this is some serious throwback rock. Extreme is unrepentantly rocking out with their…you know.
The blank calamity and mechanical desolation of much of today’s modern commercial rock is appreciatively whisked away with a single blast from Nuno and I feel it’s all going to be alright. There’s something gratifying about Extreme’s brand of rock and on the second roll through the album, I realize just how much I’ve missed it.
Starting out with “Star” was a bold move for boys. The harmony introduction can be off-putting at first, but a second listen reveals just how shimmering the nod to Queen actually is and the song takes off like a brilliant missile of soul-healing rock enchantment. It naturally helps matters that Nuno is sounding fucking awesome and his minute-long solo is exceptionally captivating.
While the whole Extreme collective has a mighty hand in Saudades de Rock, this is really Nuno’s record. As producer, songwriter, and bloody guitar maniac, the Portuguese dynamo owns each track and is the standout presence in the band. Good as they are, without Nuno, Extreme would be just another half-hearted rock band. With him, I daresay they’re plainly epic.
Tracks like “Comfortably Dumb” and “Run” remind me how good Extreme is at the whole funky rock business. The choruses cut loose with the trademark harmonies and Nuno’s riffs engage with Badger’s bass to bring a feel-good vibe to each track.
There are a number of unexpected moments on Saudades de Rock as well, such as the rapid-fire lick of “Flower Man,” on which Cherone spits like a fanatic and the song takes an almost pop-punk turn, or “Ghost,” which shows that Gary and Co. have clearly been paying some attention to Chris Martin.
The thing about really great music is that it elevates the psyche, shakes the spirit, and quickens the heart without sacrificing any truth. With Extreme’s latest, the music does all of that and then some.
There are moments of extreme greatness and beauty, like the evocative vocals of “Last Hour,” and moments of comedy, like the truly amusing “King of the Ladies.” The band runs the breadth of emotions and genres, even fucking around with a little rockabilly on “Take Us Alive.”
With other veteran acts from the 80s pulling comebacks this year, Extreme stands alongside the best of them with some truly enriching music. Packed with lots of surprises and enough traditional moments to please fans both young and old, Saudades de Rock sure as hell satisfies any nostalgic yearning for rock.Powered by Sidelines