Suzen's Garden - 'Stronger!'

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Suzen's Garden - 'Stronger!'

Both accessible and entertaining.

It's always interesting when a band "reboots" itself and emerges with claims of a new sound and direction. Suzen's Garden, the German four-piece led by vocalist Suzen Berlin, regard their new album 'Stronger!' as "the real coming out of the band". It is, they say, "louder, more honest, more emotional", showing "who and what SG really is; a true Rock band!"

I'm not sure what Joey DeMaio or Ross The Boss of Manowar fame would make of the latter claim. "Death to false Metal" I hear you shout – though in truth 'Stronger!' is rarely anything other than Melodic Pop Rock. When it does leave its own sugary path, it's as likely to stray towards overt, quirky, danceable Pop ('Get Onto The Bus') as it is to veer towards the harder side, as it attempts to do with power ballad 'Dark Silence' and the surprisingly angry 'One More Fucking Time'.

That said, expletives aside, it's a pleasant album throughout and not at all an unwelcome distraction. Opener 'Stronger' (the track) actually sets the quality bar pretty high, with its ultra-catchy chorus and punchy musical backing. Throughout, the incongruence of the more Poppy and slightly harder material is striking but part of the album's somewhat disjointed charm. Lyrically it's something of an amalgam too, with songs tackling issues such as social injustice and pollution (check out the 1980's Synth/New Wave-influenced 'Never Leave Your Home') co-existing with more standard love songs and statements of a more personal and intense nature.

Light, bright and not at all dangerous to know, 'Stronger!' is, it's fair to say, both accessible and entertaining. Whether it has enough bite or power to appeal to a mainly Rock audience is doubtable. The aforementioned '...Time' is the only really serious contender – and is guitarist Peter Maria Schmidt's finest moment – but, you know, it takes more than a swear word to make something "mature", "emotional" and Rock 'n' Roll'.

The nine tracks presented here are, apparently, the first part of a two part project. Given the variety on display, it will be interesting to hear the material that's been held back and to see whether part two will constitute progress towards the band's emerging Rock ideal.

Michael Anthony

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