Stepping down from Cloud Nine, New Jersey veterans deliver heavenly, but so down-to-earth, perspectives.
One would assume that, after more than three decades of rocking the stages, a certain ensemble’s album can’t be too sentimental or, at least, too personal, yet Michael Rescigno is out to prove such a guess wrong. But while the track titled “Call Me Raz” may suggest some intimacy, “#9” doesn’t enter the territory of age-related mawkishness, and this successor to 2015’s "Madison Park" is not only robust but also boisterous. It’s a requisite for staying long in the business, and punchy cuts like “Curveball” reveal the band’s defiant stance and their ability to face adversity.
“Perception can be king”: this line from the unhurriedly ebullient “In The Meantime” seems to summarize the group’s current angle, so it’s no coincidence that the record’s first hooks come packed into “Breadline Love” whose boogie panache is rather uncompromising, as two guitars rumble and wail, whereas the swagger of “I Got This” is playful. Still, there’s underlining ache on many of the numbers, especially on those voiced by Joey Molland, glaringly so on “The Winds Of Time” which turns a slider-oiled nostalgia into glorification of the past, and on the philosophical “Let Me Tell You” which shines a light into a piano-lined gloom.
Yet any signs of fatigue fade away when testosterone-pumping riffs propel “Nipple Town” towards the futuristic gleam behind “Dirt” that’s bound to soil the listener’s soul with some lingering bliss. A bonus disc accompanying “#9” will demonstrate how a half of these songs fares live, guaranteeing the group’s further longevity. Long may their razmatazz run.