TITLE: GUILTY PLEASURES
LABEL: THE SIGN RECORDS
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
Guilty pleasures are one of the most common concepts when it comes to one’s music tastes. Most music fans would proudly shout out their favourite genres and their favourite bands among them, but somewhere there is always a secret shame. There is never anything to be ashamed of when it comes to music and what someone likes and doesn’t, but that never stops the best of humanity hiding their true loves away. If anyone was unaware of what a guilty pleasure is, Swedish rock group Märvel enlightened: “A guilty pleasure is something, such as a film, a television program or a piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard, or is seen as unusual or weird. For example, a person may secretly like a movie knowing that the movie is poorly made and generally seen as “not good”.”
Such a wonder must cross their minds more often than others in this industry as they use a clever concept such as a guilty pleasure to bring hype to their latest record which is unsurprisingly called ‘Guilty Pleasures’. A ten-track record filled with covers of the group’s favourite rock classics, from well-known and perhaps not-so-well-known acts of the past – but they were inspirational enough for Märvel to take on and put their own personal twist to.
“retro hits, performed in a retro-inspired style”
Since 2018, the band were slowly unveiling their track listing and it became a fascinating build-up for fans to follow. The first song to be released was a cover of the REO Speedwagon classic ‘Keep Pushin’’. Beginning with the positive, frontman John Steen (known professionally as The King) has undeniable talent on lead guitar. The peak of this is pulling off a powerful guitar solo partway through – a solo that will strike the urge to stand and dance and demonstrate one’s own self-proclaimed “talent” with air guitar.
However, here comes a negative: the guitar outbalances with Steen’s vocals. His hands outshine the talent with his voice, which can make or break a track; especially a track that was meant to bring honour to the genre they are taking such pride in. There is a win overall though, as the tune is still full of fun and fight. Being the second track on the listing and the first of this era of sorts, there’s no doubt that the tune does impress. But it feels as if it just stops short of full satisfaction. 90% of the way, subjectively. There’s just 10% that needs to be added on – but there’s still an album to go.
The album’s opening and closing tracks are two of the greatest tracks on the record altogether. Opening with a rendition of Sonic Boom’s ‘All for the Glory’, it sets the theme of the album: these are retro hits, performed in a retro-inspired style, that work in making the sound seem new and awaiting to be discovered once again. Taking a sound from the 70s and 80s, where rock and roll was going strong at its peak and where they clearly got their inspiration, they must still ride through the journey of the record. They must convince the listener that their aim to “deliver rock to the masses” is being met – and being met right.
“Covers are infamously hit or miss… so well done MÄrvel for making hits out of hits.”
Taking it through the journey, the record finishes with their cover of ‘Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo’, and this is where the answer is given. This point, as the music comes to its conclusion, is that there is satisfaction. There is a common expectation for the last song on a set to make a statement, especially in the listing for a record, and that is what one may have when it comes to an entirety of cover songs. With ‘Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo’, Märvel manage to go out with a bang and a strum, and a crash, and it makes its statement and makes up for what lacked in the first half of the record’s contents.
There is always interest in a band who redeem what they lacked within the same collective of songs, and it shows power and constant self-improvement. Covers are infamously hit or miss… so well done Märvel for making hits out of hits.