Lovex - Pretend Or Surrender
Designer Gothic poprock from talented Finnish band Lovex.
You can't help but feel this album was the result of purely commercial decisions.
That said, it's been assembled with flair, imagination and production values that could settle third world debt.
On the occasions when it's ordinary, it's truly ordinary. But when it's good, it soars through epic landscapes, bending sturdy melodies into dark shapes and pulsating choruses.
The songs are heavily textured with layer upon layer of instrumentation that often seem to be fighting hard to get free of the production's gravitational pull. Maybe this was a deliberate ploy. The claustrophobic feel it often creates counterpoints the broad sweep it otherwise aims for.  
'Pretend Or Surrender' is filled with pained, mannered vocals, windswept soundscapes and thundering, bass heavy guitar tones, moody piano motifs and dramatic synth strings.
The up tempo material occasionally switches into power metal mode, and can just as quickly switch back out again. It's a jarring variation rather than a welcome departure from the norm.
But there are many highlights. 'Turn' and 'Different Light' are dark edged, sinister songs of cinematic proportions, full of melancholy harmonies and ethereal choirs, built to run on and on.
'Take A Shot' is a sugar rush of contemporary pop with Gothic overtones. Imagine Keane had been brought up in Finland. Brilliantly grandiose pop, content to dwell in the shadows. Angular and frequently overdone to perfection.
Elsewhere, 'Writings On The Wall's surging guitars give the track more of a metallic ring.
The balladic 'Time And Time Again' benefits from a comparatively stripped back production. Dark, brooding and overblown, it glides along sedately on a swell of synth strings.
Arguably, the jagged, ragged 'Ordinary Day' is the album's standout. A thudding bass line, a whispered verse, rising to a soaring chorus - like a contemporary Aha  - encapsulates all the album has striven for up to that point.
You might not fall in love with 'Pretend Or Surrender', but despite the flaws, it does have a compelling beauty.

Written by Brian
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
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Brian: 6/10

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Review by Brian

Released by
Capitol Records, Finland - 2008

If She's Near
Take A Shot
Different Light
Writings On The Wall
Time And Time Again
Belong To No One
My Isolation
Rid Of Me
Ordinary Day
End Of The World

Gothic Pop / rock

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