Released by: BMG
Release Date: April 29th, 2022
Genre: Hard Rock
1. The Western Sky
2. One Day We’ll Be Free Again
3. Even If It Takes A Lifetime
6. The Dead City
7. Last Orders
8. All The Way
9. Dancing In The Sunshine
10. Big Pink Supermoon
11. Across The Nation
12. Just A Grifter
13. I Don’t Believe The World
15. Is Anybody Out There?
16. No Smoke Without Fire
‘Thunder’ has been the consistent rumble of rock that has been the antidote, for three decades, to some pretty shocking bands over the years. But whether the music weather you enjoy is classic, hard or melodic, the Dopamine forecast is looking pretty good and it even has a little drizzle of jazz to pitter-patter on your window of sound.
It’s hard to believe that the band is now in their 33rd year and with the pesky pandemic putting a spanner in all our works, the Thunder chaps have not been idle and given us all a double album offering that reads like a novel about the past freaky few years we have been going through.
Oh, the joy to my ears, as a confessed LA sleaze rock kind of cat, to hear the pumping classic rock chords to the opener, ‘The Western Sky, and so begins a theme of great riffs, heart-warming harmonies, and clear, luxurious, warm vocals from Danny Bowes. I was expecting one album to be rockier than the other, but the blend of hard versus softer melodic offerings has been thoughtfully scattered between each, bringing a party atmosphere on the one hand and tinged with contemplativeness on the other.
‘Dopamine’ was inspired by the pandemic lockdowns, and it shows, just as we all went from waves of loneliness and depression to looking forward and positivity…the album mirrors the rollercoaster ride that we have all been through, and it does so very well indeed.
A top tune in my view is the iridescent ‘One Day We’ll Be Free Again’, this heart-swelling, arena filling punchy offering is one of my favourites…and I said ‘one of’ because there are many. Including ‘Black’ which opens with a thumping intro straight from the ’70s, is it Thin Lizzy or The Sweet I am listening to? The punching drum beat from Harry Jamesis the steadfast background thundering along behind the vocals, presenting an ultimately Muse-esque feel to this track. If you have a pension for Sons of Anarchy (I know I do) ‘Even If It Takes A lifetime’ will suck you in with its super southern drawl of an opening, it brings a nice slice of Americana to proceedings. This rock /country/ honky tonk of a tune is perfect for sipping some moonshine on your porch!
Superb guitar dripping with cowboy honey flair!
‘Unravelling’ is the ballad for these times and is sensitive and truly beautiful as it washes over you in waves. The slide guitar is a lovely touch that pulls at the heartstrings. Stunning
The final three tracks on the first album bring us back to heavy rock reality with great musicianship all the way through. ‘The Dead City’ does feel as if it is taking me back to my 90’s LA music-loving roots! Whilst ‘All the Way’ is another nice headbanger with a raunchy, cheeky party vibe to it that has great grinding guitar you can swing your hips to with delight!
Album two opens with ‘Dancing in The Sunshine’ … Get your six-pack on ice, turn the volume to 11 and bring it on!! This track is a festival full of the joy of summer and …. well, I just LOVE it!
And this is where there is a little bit of a surprise in store, ‘Pink Supermoon’, is a schmoozy, jazzy, city on a hot summer’s night of a tune, but not at all what I was expecting! But hey ‘Thunder’ do this bloody well, and it feels groovy!
‘Across The Nation’ hits the eardrums like a low flying jet and kisses ass through nicely with screaming guitars and vocals …. LOVE IT! Whilst ‘I Don’t Believe the World’ describes the unbelievable crisis we have all been living through, and quite possibly all have PTSD because, admirably, the gut-wrenching vocals and harmonies bring it all home.
I am not a crier, but ‘Anybody Out There’, actually brought a lump to my throat, and that doesn’t happen often believe me! But the finale of all finales has to be ‘No Smoke Without Fire’, GOD this would make a great Bond theme tune! It has all the elements needed… hair on arms sticking up – check, goosebumps – check, soulful harmonizing backing singers – check! Amazing, awe-inspiring musicianship and vocals – check! Get Broccoli on the ringer NOW!
Blimey …. Did I need to hear this, Dopamine says it all about the past few years of COVID nightmare with a blend of soul searching and very touching melodies right through to raucous uplifting kick-ass tunes that make you want to sing your heart out and dance your ass off too.
Dopamine is all heart…. heart-wrenching, heart-lifting, and heart-swelling. This has been the first album I have reviewed since lockdown and it truly has been a tonic.
SCORE 9 out of 10
Reviewed by: Francijn Suermondt