UFO impress but do not amaze
Ah UFO, UFO. One of those names I've always heard of but never actually heard. With their latest release 'The Monkey Puzzle' arriving on my doorstep I've had the chance to rectify that and although not to my taste, their latest certainly shows why they have such a solid, dedicated and long lasting fan base.
Musically speaking much of the UFO formula takes the classic-rock formula of jangly guitars with soaring vocals and guitar solos, with a few nice little extras thrown in for taste. There are numerous bluesy parts to their music, such as the warbling harmonica intro to 'Some Other Guy' and the acoustic opening to 'Who's Fooling Who' which add enough diversity to UFO's classic-rock stylings to hold your interest and set them apart from the rest of the pack. The album itself is full of little diverse touches like that which I personally appreciate; after spending so long in the music business it would be all to easy to fall into the trap of not adding new musical ideas, but this is one pitfall UFO have avoided deftly.
One thing the album does suffer from is 'decade ago' production syndrome - a problem I've noticed with lots of the older, more established and set in their way bands. The production just sounds a bit weak, a bit empty, a bit flat, much like any record from long, long ago before our production standards improved. Whilst the old classics remain so, regardless of how poorly recorded they sound, there is no excuse in this day and age. Whether it is simply the band being set in their ways, or intentionally choosing this style of production, there is no excuse.
So on the whole, it's more of the same really from UFO. If you're looking for something innovative and complex, 'The Monkey Puzzle' is not for you at all... if however you have any liking of blues-tinged classic rock then this album will really hit the spot. Whilst I personally have no liking for the genre, it is obvious even to the ears of the untrained such as I, that what UFO do, they do well and thus the album can't be called bad at all.