A new album from Bonafide will always catch my attention. They’re one of those bands who will reliably provide a good album, time after time. Constantly touring across the UK and Europe, the band make sure they get as much distance possible out of their material. On the other side of that coin, you wonder how they fit in studio time with such a busy schedule.
Album-opener “Back in Flames” shows it’s business as usual for the Swedes. It’s got all the hallmarks of a Bonafide song, bluesy hard rock guitars, a rhythm you can nod your head along to and vocals equal parts gravel and high-pitched wailing. It’s also a statement of intent that they’re coming back with all guns blazing. The line “Taking it back to the beginning” spells it out in case you weren’t aware as Flames has some of the band’s bluesiest numbers since their debut.
If you’re a Bonafide fan, you’ll know there’s not much deviation from their core sound and it’s something the band have adhered to with this new album. When you hit the play button for the first time, you know what you’re going to get. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s a comfort that when the new album hits, you’ll know where you stand: more of a good thing. It’s real rock and roll for real people.
However, there are a couple of anomalies from the blueprint and they’re quite possibly the best songs on the record. Namely “Like It Now” and “Under Your Spell”. The former starts off fairly standard with a slightly wistful undercurrent. Then the chorus hits and a gospel choir kicks in to back up Pontus Snibb’s vocals. It brings a soulful dynamic to the song and whilst you wouldn’t expect it from Bonafide; it works. It’s a song which you could easily transpose into a live setting with the audience taking the part of the choir.
Then there’s the afore-mentioned “Under Your Spell”. Again, it sticks out for the right reasons. Featuring another appearance from the gospel choir and epic in the truest sense of the word, it clocks in at almost eight minutes. For a band whose songs average the four and a half minute mark, it’s something of a new venture for them. However, it’s got legs, there’s not a section that could be shortened or cut. It’s a great foray into new territory and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s something revisited in future releases.
As they continue to do things in their own way, Bonafide ensure they provide genuine rock and roll, taking aim at those who can’t walk the talk and the clichés of rock with songs like “Smoke and Fire” and “Bottle of Jack”. The latter also delves into the misconceptions of life in a touring band and how the days of over-indulgence in rock are consigned to the history books.
The music may stay the same, the quality ever-consistent but it’s blues and soul-drenched hard rock for the denim and leather brigade. The sort of rock that has outlived every fad the music industry has thrown its way and somehow still survives. Bonafide haven’t redefined themselves with Flames. It’s unlikely they’ll give us a “departure” record but when you’re this good at what you do, you’ve got license to do what you like.
Flames is released 24th February and the band are on tour this March:
- 5th March – Glasgow, O2 ABC2
- 6th March – Liverpool, O2 Academy 2
- 7th March – Sheffield, O2 Academy 2
- 8th March – Buckley, Tivoli
- 9th March – Pwllheli, HRH AOR
- 10th March – York, Fibbers
- 11th March – Grimsby, Yardbirds
- 12th March – Birmingham, O2 Academy 2
- 13th March – London, O2 Academy 2
- 14th March – Oxford, O2 Academy 2
- 15th March – Manchester, Rebellion
- 16th March – Norwich, Waterfront
- 17th March – Newcastle, Think Tank
- 18th March – Edinburgh, Bannermans