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In Transit by Fugitive

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Reviewed on 19th January 2009.


In Transit

By Fugitive

Hard rock outfit Fugitive specialise in swaggering riffs and brash, rock and roll choruses lifted from an era before hard rock splintered into so many hyphenated subgenres. While it's arguable that this brand of hard rock may have already enjoyed its heyday, modern melodic rockers Airbourne seem to be doing quite well for themselves ploughing this musical furrow. Perhaps then, there is still a market for good old-fashioned rock.

If there was ever a song to support this argument, then it's 'In Transit's standout track, 'Alive.' Not only does it neatly summarise everything that's great about Fugitive - the hard-rocking but melodic riffs, delivered with an oldschool, cock-rock swagger - but the chorus is guaranteed to raise a smile. Its euphoric cry of "you can take this job and shove it up your ass!" is delivered with obvious relish, and the conservative, distinctly British wording makes for far more humorous listening than any expletive-packed rant. 'Alive' will make you wish you were watching Fugitive live, because this is the sort of chorus that demands you raise your pint, and sing along to.

'Wings' is another track that's bursting with showy confidence, thanks to generous helpings of huge riffs and beery, sing-along choruses. 'This Ain't Love' follows this formula, but tempers its massive riffs with short, squealy chords that bring a slight edge to Fugitive's much-loved, but non-too-contemporary, sound.

Appearing dated is a constant danger with Fugitive and, with 'Temptation,' they very nearly do. They only just manage to retain a sense of freshness, thanks to a dumb, but insanely catchy, chorus that's basically just frontman Mikee wailing "temptation, temptaaaaaation" over and over again. While there's a good chance this'll have your teeth on edge by the eighteenth or nineteenth repetition, there's nothing you can do to stop it from worming its way into your head.

Thankfully, 'Temptation' is Fugitive's most bloodless re-treading of old ground, as the rest of this album takes the unexpected route of lacing its chugging riffs and classy guitar solos with keyboards and synths to deliver a more up-to-date sound.

'Look Inside Your Heart' has an original flourish of bright, twinkling keys, and 'Friday 13th' opens with an atmospheric, synth-laden passage, and features plenty of sombre synths that emphasise its brooding undertones. However, Fugitive do embrace their dark side a little too obviously on the bridge section, where Mikee's vocals are echoed by a 'demonic' voice that sounds like it's been lifted straight out of a cheesy B-movie. Still, 'Friday 13th's brooding undercurrent puts a darker twist on Fugitive's showy, cock-rock sound, and it's a welcome change on an album that does have a tendency to sound samey.

But it's not until the jazzy rock of 'Every Drop of Rain' that the keyboards really come to the forefront. Their ooom-pa beat runs throughout the entire song and, together with bursts of sawing, stop-start riffs, they give 'Every Drop of Rain' a jazzy, ska-punk-inspired bounce. This is even more prominent on the chorus, where sudden vocal surges accompany the keyboard and riff combo. 'Every Drop of Rain' is a completely unexpected direction for Fugitive to take, but it works brilliantly.

In complete contrast, Fugitive offer up the stripped-down, subtly atmospheric 'Overnight Sensation,' which would be distinctly bland if it wasn't for generous helpings of likeable, easy-on-the-ear riffs. Sadly, the same can't be said for 'Janie' which is just a little too sparse to be engaging. Although harmonious backing vocals and extra riffs are layered on towards the end, it's too little, too late, and you won't have the burning desire to plod through 'Janie' again.

Of course, an album like 'In Transit' wouldn't be complete without a power ballad and, sure enough, Fugitive treat us to one in the form of the soaring, wonderfully melodramatic 'Behind Closed Eyes.' This song flicks between verses of simple guitar-picking and atmospheric keys, and choruses of urgent riffs and sweeping, cinematic melodies that make a dramatic bid for the heartstrings. It's impressive just how seamlessly Fugitive slip between those two contrasting sounds.

Fugitive haven't made things easy for themselves with their chosen genre, which is one that's unlikely to win them favour with younger music lovers. However, if they cared about winning over the next generation, they wouldn't have produced an album that's so rooted in the bygone era of rock. 'In Transit' delivers hard, melodic rock with much-needed, original touches that ensure it never sounds like a pale imitation of rock's past glories. Fugitive are the band for anyone who wonders why they don't make rock music like they used to.



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