Latest Article: 15/12/2005
The Mechanics' sixth studio album has been a long time coming. After the tragic death of Paul Young in summer 2000, many fans of the band were left wondering if the remaining Mechanics would simply down tools and call it a day. As it transpired, Mike decided the best course of action would be to give the band an extended holiday, and after deciding to return, give the band a marked change, both in sound and by retitling the band "Mike & The Mechanics and Paul Carrack".
The change in the bands name was easily done and quickly understood and acknowledged - except by a few puzzled fans. Modernising the Mechanics sound was a far riskier proposition. From "Word of Mouth" on, the Mechanics have become known for catchy, sometimes light pop songs, and the experimental edge of their debut had long since been sacrificed in favour of the acoustic guitar and a chorus you could whistle to.
Photo © 2004 Martin Schmitz
From the word go, "Rewired" sets out to redefine the Mechanics yet again. The album's lead off song, "One Left Standing", sets the tone for the rest of the album wonderfully. Opening with a smooth drum beat and building up to an infectious melody, it's immediately clear that "Rewired" hasn't gone down the same road as "Now That You've Gone", which simply mixed a traditional Mechanics song with a drum beat and a remix. "Rewired" has a sound which has been built around the audio advancements of the day, and not been dictated by them.
Following on from "One Left Standing", is the far more subtle, "If I Were You". Awash with low key beats and a traditional Mechanics lyric, "If I Were You", is a track which eases you into the rest of the album well, but doesn't quite grab you immediately.
Track three is "Perfect Child" and harks back to the same sort kindred tones as invoked by "The Living Years". To my ears though, it misses the mark by some margin, and comes across feeling overly forced and somewhat cheesy. Given "The Living Years" style of the song, record companies hesitantly placed it as the second single, but as with "One Left Standing" before it, it never got past radio.
The album continues apace with the first of two instrumental pieces. Title track, "Rewired" blends together the best of the Mechanics new sounds, with new blood Will Bates co-writing and programming. It's clear Mike is harking back to some of his prog roots, as the composition paints a varied and complex sound scape, which provides a welcome change of pace for the album, and indeed the bands career.
Following songs "I Don't Want It All" and "How Can I" hold everything together, with the former bringing a timely of pace, and the latter, being one of the warmer pieces on the album.
Track seven ("Fallen") is one of the albums highlights, and proved a fresh opener for the Mechanics live european dates. To my ears this is how I'd like to see the next Mechanics album progress, as it strikes just the right balance between the traditional Mechanics qualities of strong melody, emotive lyrics, and uplifting spirit with the new direction they're taking. "Somewhere Along The Line" muses over time long passed, and is easily one of the most thoughtful tracks on the album, with the songs sentiment encapsulated perfectly with both lyrics and music. The video for this song was of particular note, portraying a women returning to her old home, with her past memories illustrated through some very tasteful animation.
Wrapping up proceedings, is the aforementioned second instrumental "Underscore", whose accompanying video was also very polished. The song itself is a grittier number than "Rewired", and in my opinion, is the better of the two instrumentals, as I appreciate the tracks darker edge.
Overall "Rewired" has it's highs ("One Left Standing" & "Fallen") and lows ("Perfect Child"), but for the most part it's a solid Mechanics album, slightly stunted by it's transitional nature. I've little doubt that now Mike has taken the effort to chart a fresh course for the band, that a follow up album would be stronger and smoother all round. Fingers remain crossed that a follow up is on the cards.