February 26, 2020 The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic (Album Review)
If you have a soft spot for the nostalgia and synth-heavy, Pop-infused infectiousness of ’70s Rock and ’80s Electronic music, then look no further than the dulcet sounds of The Night Flight Orchestra.
Started in 2007 by Soilwork band members Bjorn Strid (vocalist) and David Andersson (guitar), The Night Flight Orchestra is a Swedish Hard Rock band that channels all the things you loved about the early work of bands like Jefferson Starship, Scorpions, Foreigner, and more. Together, they released two albums before achieving more notable success in the form of a Swedish Grammy nomination for Best Rock/ Metal in 2017 for their third studio album, Amber Galactic. Now, the band is back with their fourth studio album, and their second with Nuclear Blast, Aeromantic, which is set for release on Friday, February 28, 2020.
Currently, The Night Flight Orchestra consists of Bjorn Strid (vocals), David Andersson (guitar), Anna-Mia Bonde and Anna Brygård (vocals, aka “The Airline Annas”), Sebastian Forslund (congas, percussion, guitar), Jonas Källsbäck (drums), Richard Larsson (keyboards), and Sharlee D’Angelo (bass guitar). That in mind, there is something incredibly unique and enchanting with the way The Night Flight Orchestra incorporates techniques and sounds to create nostalgia you didn’t know you needed.
The prominent utilization of keys and synth in much of their work gives all the ’80s vibes and it’s surprisingly more delightful than it is kitschy. This is evident from the very beginning with “Servants Of The Air”and it’s “Shout At The Devil”- esqe soul at the kickoff. There is nothing ironic or hokey about the work they put into their music or the layers they compose into that work. In fact, their sound is never the result of lazy composition and lackadaisical songwriting, but very real and tangible.
There is also “Curves,” which has Hall & Oates vibes with its ear-catching and suspiciously bouncy tempo. The most interesting thing about The Night Flight Orchestra is that they have a strange and uncanny ability to make music that feels like it exists in a time-bubble without feeling dated. There are moments in “Curves” that read as more of an ’80s or ’90s sitcom theme song than a synth-tinged Rock lamentation and yet it is not exhaustive or ridiculous in its impact.
Title-track “Aeromantic” taps into some Classic Rock percussion and dirty guitar sound. Coming in steady and hot, the song is instantly infectious and sweeping. It catches your attention and encourages some foot-tapping and head-bobbing at the first verse before rolling into the cool and upswept chorus that changes the whole mood of the track. It is crisp and refreshing at the chorus which helps stave off the risk of monotony in the steady percussion.
Then on “Taurus” the band takes you on a new journey that is quicker-paced than some of its predecessors, but nonetheless effervescent and invigorating. Like its namesake, “Taurus” takes the bull by the horns by charging forward with its full-charge energy and indomitable spirit until it cascades into “Carmencita Seven.” Here you get a taste of the expert string work that Night Flight is capable of without the mimicry that often comes from bands that are influenced by the same artists and timeline as The Night Flight Orchestra. This is while on “Carmencita Seven” there is guitar play from Andersson and Forslund that is sharp, intriguing, and enthralling, especially at the bridge.
As we near the end of the album, “Sister Mercurial” changes up the pace a bit with some crisper sounds and a peeling intro that perks up the senses and triggers the ears. The entirety of Aeromantic is a journey that explores relationships and does so through the lens of flying, taking flight, or the “view from the top.” Staying true to its title, this album continuously draws parallels between life and the freedom, or distance, that comes from taking flight. When a person “takes flight” it can manifest in many ways both literally and physically, which is what is so fascinating about that exploration on Aeromantic.
Closing up shop on the album is “Dead of Winter ” which gives heavy “Final Countdown” energy at the beginning. It is Pop-laden, synth-infused, atmospheric, and heady. Perhaps what’s most impressive is the dynamic vocal range and skill demonstrated in the falsetto on this track. Here you are given multiple examples that showcase Strid’s impressive vocal prowess with the accompaniment of “The Airline Annas.”
There is a message and intention in each song as they lead through the journey or Aeromantic. Whether it’s creating the feeling of floating/flying at 30,000-feet, or the affirming sense of having your feet firmly on the ground, the end game is always based on something. Overall, while the concept for the album can feel a bit heavy in some places, Aeromantic does deliver a fascinating reprieve from the everyday. Sure some of us may not have plans to leave the ground any time soon, but with the complex layers of this sonic trip to the skies, any one of us can take up a Night Flight (Orchestra). So, for sonic diversity, compelling storytelling and composition, Cryptic Rock gives The Night Flight Orchestra’s Aeromantic 4 out of 5 stars.