Retro style is a curious thing that pops up in all parts of (pop) culture; clothes, games, music. In some aspects in different forms than in others – in clothing it is usually not more than a nod to the past by combining an old item or pattern with modern items. You likely won’t find anyone who lived through life and arrived at a point where they’d say 1976’s clothing style was the height of fashion and they’ll always wear that now (except your one weird uncle). In music however, the retro trend lives no-holds-barred. Sure, you’ll find bands combining old and new style, but it is no rare thing to have musicians celebrating a certain musical time without exception musically. The only thing modern would be the recording and mixing techniques. Which is coincidentally where NFO reside as well. It’s not exactly 1976 where the band located the best part of music history but rather a wild mix of ’70s and ’80s tunes, as if Toto and Survivor recorded a split EP. Okay, maybe that’s more of a black metal phenomenon.
NFO is, as most of you savvy people know, Björn Strid’s (Soilwork) and Sharlee D’Angelo’s (Arch Enemy) project. Unlike their main bands though, NFO is free of any death metal influences or anything heavier than Bon Jovi for that matter. Opinions on this rather pop-influenced band could be split, which would usually be the case for heavy metal musicians going a softer direction, but NFO engineered their first three albums so masterfully that somehow, all of metal is united and it’s been a delight for both Soilwork and Toto fans.
How could it be any different though; listen to the driving drums and Hold-The-Line keyboards of the title track “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough” and it will be hard for you not to revel in the uncompromising ’70s love and free spirit. Yes, this is not the most sophisticated songwriting, not elaborate as some Soilwork tracks, but it is smart. It just works, NFO prove they studied their idols well to get to a level where they can reproduce the feeling and the style instead of being a pale imitation. Take “Moments Of Thunder”: the drums, the beat, the riff, the chorus. Everything screams Survivor, precisely “Burning Heart”. It’d be hard to record a song both a great tribute and amazing track itself if you didn’t know exactly what you’re doing. As such, NFO might be a highly calculated effort, but that’s what makes it enjoyable. This band breathes the music they replicate.
Like with Amber Galactic in 2017, one track must rise to the top. On Amber, it was the very ’70s-like party track “Gemini”, but Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough goes less hard on the exalted hippie style and instead features its biggest track, “Lovers In The Rain” in typical nostalgic, slightly melancholic ’80s manner, comparable to Survivor‘s “I Can’t Hold Back”, a happy track, but with blue undertone.
One thing all tracks on the album have in common though, be it ’70s or ’80s influences, are the huge choruses. “Can’t Be That Bad”, “Barcelona”, “Speedwagon”; those are the songs that will stick to you for weeks to follow. Smart to release the album in summer, the feel-good attitude characteristic for ’80s rock really makes this a great album for enjoying in the heat, at the beach, on night drives. Even when it’s too hot too sleep. I’d be hard-pressed to say something negative about Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough. Sure, it’s a highly subjective experience; if you want death metal, it’s not for you, but if you enjoy a callback to the best the ’70s and ’80s had to offer, NFO is the way to go. And that’s really the only constraint – enjoy a good retro experience? Get the album. Don’t want that? Don’t get it. No one will be disappointed wih STWAE, it’s catchy as hell tracks filled with energy start to finish.