NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA – The Aeromantic II (2021) HQ
Titled ”Aeromantic II”, the upcoming album from the Swedish awesome band NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA is the follow-up to 2020’s Aeromantic and is scheduled to be released next September 3rd. “Aeromantic II” really does feel like a spiritual successor to its predecessor. Let’s be real for a moment: if you enjoyed “Aeromantic,” you can just skip the analysis and go buy the record. You will Love It.
Of course, if you just cannot bear the wait, and want to know all about this new offering, we have plenty of good news to share: this new opus is plenty of wonderful melodies, ’80s-type instrumentation, terrific retro keys / synths, Styx-like drama, and more, much more…
Opener “Violent Indigo” (not a typo) truly is back for revenge, and lets us know with its nearly Vangelis synth opening that the band is recharged and ready to give us more. The song is laden with lyrics full of allusion to the love-across-the-miles travel theme so present in the 2020 album. The ’80s pop instrumentation, riffs, leads, and big rich chorus really set the stage for the rest of the album.
With a driving 4/4 dancing discotheque beat, “Midnight Marvelous” carries the torch well for the album’s unrelenting nature. Aside from some cool beats, funky basslines, mysterious female spoken word bits, and some sweet keyboard leads, the song seems to be all about defanging mom’s lessons about how nothing good ever happens after midnight.
An up-tempo little number described by the band as “90s Deep Purple on cocaine,” the track entitled “How Long” has one of the strongest and most ear-wormy choruses of the album. Make no mistake, the riffs are a really cool vehicle to get us from one catchy chorus to the next.
“Burn for Me” missed its cue to appear on a Phil Collins solo album, but that’s OK, because it’s right at home flying full time with the Night Flight Orchestra. Aside from the big reverb snare fun and old school piano chords, the song has great major-key energy, and the band is marketing the video as a post-Corona good times celebration. Let’s hope it’s a good omen.
“Chardonnay Nights” however, is thankfully more lively than dinner party conversation over white wine and continental cheeses. It’s kind of like if Dennis De Young wrote a disco song with Styx. Don’t worry, that’s better than it probably sounds. No one let JY sing on this one.
“Change” once again removes all doubt about whether the improved keyboards presence makes a difference on this album. From the piano synth chords, to the driving kick drum beat, to the cool synth embellishments, it is almost music for Rocky IV training montage. Almost. Which is no mean feat.
If we return from fight time with Ivan Drago to something a little more poppy, it would be “Amber Through a Window.” Hopefully the song’s protagonist is appreciating the young lady through a window and not defenestrating her, but in any scenario, it’s an interesting prog-pop fusion, and one for a future “Greatest Hits” collection.
The song “I Will Try” is a surprise favorite of the album. The opening and the main beat are like some nostalgic revival of mid-80s Journey fused with 80s Genesis, and maybe a hint of Tina Turner. “You Belong to the Night” is textbook NFO, from its disco beat to its Latin percussion to its mix and songwriting. While there may not be anything especially noteworthy in the song, it’s a solid track and gets us well prepped for the less usual “Zodiac.”
From spanky single coil guitar strumming, to meandering basslines, to a chorus guitar riff that’s almost in-your-face like ‘Beat It’, “Zodiac” a cool little song to be sure. It is also worth noting the subtle female spoken word bits again, which are blessedly in English. Not that there is anything wrong with Swedish, or any language really, but we pointed out the bits of Swedish radio chatter on the previous album, and hinted that sticking to English makes the music more portable to international commerce. Of course, the band has a rabid following at home, and cannot be blamed for the occasional localized shout out.
The next track, “White Jeans,” is gay. No, seriously. The band penned the track as a tip of the hat to their friends in the gay and lesbian community, especially in the music scene, and for real, the song is actually very cool, just bursting with energy and attitude, up-tempo pacing and cool guitar riffs.
The album ends with “Moonlit Skies,” which somehow manages to have the keyboard feels of an ’80s Synth Pop act, and simultaneously have the guitar sounds of Maiden’s “Somewhere in Time” album. The tempo has calmed down a little bit, as has the energy, but the song is quasi-serious enough to bring the album to a tasteful conclusion.
The analysis of this record is straightforward; ”Aeromantic II” is a worthy successor to its namesake. Arguably, it is even better with the improved soundscapes created by keyboard and synth usage.
Considering NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA is bound by a somewhat limiting formula, they still manage to remain creative and inventive. The mix is ideal in what could end up being an overcrowded mess in the wrong hands. But NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA are incredible good on what they do.
1. Violent Indigo
2. Midnight Marvelous
3. How Long
4. Burn For Me
5. Chardonnay Nights
7. Amber Through A Window
8. I Will Try
9. You Belong To The Night
11. White Jeans
12. Moonlit Skies
Björn Strid / Lead and Backing vocals
David Andersson / Guitars
Sharlee D’Angelo / Bass
Sebastian Forslund / Guitars, percussion
Jonas Källsbäck / Drums
John Manhattan Lönnmyr / Keyboards
Anna Brygård, AnnaMia Bonde / Backing Vocals