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ALBUM REVIEW: HONEYMOON SUITE – ‘CLIFTON HILL’

Album review previously published on ANTENNA magazine website in 2008:

HONEYMOON SUITE – CLIFTON HILL (Frontiers)

When modern parodies of the 80’s exist a la Grand Theft Auto: Vice City you imagine the creators must’ve looked at these guys for inspiration – mullets, bouffants, long jackets, neon decor, synths and DeLorean’s. Yes, Canadian pomp-rockers Honeymoon Suite were one of THE most 80’s bands around during their prime years. With songs in Lethal Weapon, The Wraith, and TV’s Miami Vice and top notch album production from legends Ted Templeman [Van Halen] and Bruce Fairbairn [Bon Jovi] it was a case of move over Loverboy, there’s a new kid in town.

But enough with the history lesson! It’s not the 80’s anymore. The band no longer have mullet’s, and there’s a brand new album in the offering.
Kicking in with a riff and beat not unlike that of early Van Halen She Ain’t Alright opens the album to a good start – it lacks the keyboard led sound that these guys were famed for – but with Johnnie Dee still on vocals it’s unmistakably Honeymoon Suite.

Tracks stay short and sweet throughout, with a particularly different vibe surrounding each one. But the drawback here on Clifton Hill is the lack of stompin’ rock [something they managed quite well with 1984’s Honeymoon Suite], unfortunately only a few songs make you feel like drinking beer on a speedboat as you ride toward the sunset. The rest make you wanna by flowers for your girlfriend and treat her to a candlelit lovemaking session – which would lead you to believe there’s perhaps one too many ballad outings here [Keyboardist Ray Cockburn trades his synths for pianos more often that not].

But hey, Honeymoon Suite always did wear those ol’ ballad outings pretty well.

So with the original line-up back as of 2007, and original producer Tom Treumuth back onboard it’s most definitely a case of reliving past glories here.

Yet somehow with all this reminiscing, Clifton Hill manages to dodge being a parody of itself. Sure, musically it doesn’t offer up anything new, but that doesn’t equate to a bad album. Far from it in fact. Honeymoon Suite have actively tried to recreate the past by putting all their original classic components together, but have also managed to inject a passion and ingenuity into this album that keeps you listening.

Fans of Honeymoon Suite are certainly gonna be happy with this return – and middle aged housewives who miss getting picked up by their boyfriend in a Pontiac Firebird moreso.

 

Gary Sutherland © 2008.