Over the last decade Sweden became home to the most interesting bands in the AOR/hard rock/retro hard rock/heavy metal scenes (pretty much in every style). And right when you think that all possible new talent this country has to offer has finally been discovered, there comes a bunch of seasoned rockers who decide it’s their time to shine. The guys in PERFECT PLAN are definitely no newbies. Some of the band members have been playing and recording in obscure and low profile Swedish hard rock/heavy metal bands dating back as much as 1983, but nothing spectacular came up while checking their bio, other than a couple of the guys participating in Swedish hard rockers KILLER BEE for a brief period at the beginning of the current decade. Anyway, there’s nothing fancy and enlightening about their past so let’s just keep it current.
PERFECT PLAN is an AOR band with hints of melodic hard rock and classic rock. The first thing that will hit you and impress you is their frontman Kent Hilli. Fantastic voice, his singing sounds so natural you could think he’s American. And he definitely sounds much younger than he actually is. Another great thing about them is their deep understanding of the AOR style and their well crafted sound. This is not a band that caught wind of a few AOR hits and decided they want to jump in; they definitely know what they are doing. You can trace small hints of great bands from the 80’s like GIANT, FOREIGNER, WHITESNAKE (“Slip of the tongue” era) etc and a healthy dose of Scandi AOR like ALIEN, WORK OF ART, BROTHER FIRETRIBE (Hilli actually sounds similar to Pekka Ansio Heino of the latter), but the band has a class of its own. Musicianship and performances from all participating musicians are top level.
So, it’s all about the songs. There are some impressive standout tracks on “All rise”. “In and out of love” is such; from the first notes you something great is about to burst from your speakers. The build up to the chorus is pure 80’s magic. Hilli delivers some nice falsettos in the verse and then goes head on to the chorus which will stick in your mind for a long time (provided you enjoy this type of music). “Stone Cold Lover” is an up tempo rocker with edgy riffs and even a slightly metallic drive, rounded out beautifully by layers of keys. Reminds me of some previous stuff by PRIDE OF LIONS’ Toby Hitchcock or the late JIMI JAMISON. “Too Late” is another AOR gem, absolutely catchy, with soaring vocals and epic keys. “Never Surrender” is the song with the most similarities to BROTHER FIRETRIBE; I swear it could fit perfectly on their amazing first two albums. The driving anthem “What Can I Do” made me think a lot of Chris Ousey (VIRGINIA WOLF, HEARTLAND, THE DISTANCE), one of my favorite AOR singers. “Heaven In Your Eyes’’ (not a LOVERBOY cover) closes the album in pure 80’s AOR fashion with a strong positive vibe. The rest of the songs are also of a high level, interesting and enjoyable and if you are more into classic rock you will probably think highly of songs like “Gone Too Far”; if you like it sleazy “What Goes Around” is your thing.
To sum it up, if you are into AOR this is a must buy album. If not, you might still want to check it out, cause it’s a really solid album that anyone with an ear for the melodic side of the rock spectrum can enjoy.