Still one of the most popular and successful rock bands that the world has ever seen, AC/DC are back to give us their seventeenth studio album, ‘Power Up’.
It goes without saying that you know exactly what this album will sound like before you press play. But you’d be lying if the world didn’t need songs perfectly suited to being in a dingy bar with your friends, and forgetting all of your worries for just one evening. No matter what anyone thinks, AC/DC undoubtedly serve a purpose, and arguably even more so now than they ever have.
It only feels like yesterday that the Anglo-Aussie giants announced their return, and this may be one of the shortest roll-outs for an album in recent memory. A lot has happened in camp AC/DC in recent years; the shows with Axl Rose, Phil Rudd‘s arrest for multiple charges, and the tragic passing of co-founding guitarist Malcolm Young. The latter event on top of the others could suck the life out of almost any band, but not AC/DC. If they could respond with what many consider to be best album in the face of tragedy 40 years ago with ‘Back In Black’, they’ll continue to be unstoppable until the very end.
‘Realize’ will be comfortingly familiar, with a classic screech from Brian Johnson, and the guitars riffs and drums coming thundering in with everything turned up to 11. ‘A Shot In The Dark’ is an early highlight – you will definitely be able to sing along to this, and virtually everything else on this album. ‘Through The Mists Of Time’ is lifted by the vocal harmonies, as well as a classic Angus Young solo.
The slightly slower, bluesy ‘Kick You When You’re Down’ is a contender for the best song on here, also bolstered by backing vocals that increase the song’s power. ‘Witch’s Spell’ is another highlight, and the Led Zeppelin-like ‘Demon Fire’ is also very enjoyable. Johnson‘s low-pitched spoken word intro is ridiculous, of course, but you can’t help but laugh along.
‘Systems Down’ has another sing-along chorus, and closer ‘Code Red’ is a riff-heavy number that is the most signature AC/DC song on an album full of songs that will assuredly scratch fans’ itches.
It can get embarrassing when statesmen bands get older and still resort to singing about being dangerous, uninhibited beasts, but you can’t help but enjoy AC/DC still sounding full of life. There may be variation on one (or two) themes, but the self-awareness and the energy not letting up all the way though is what has always set them apart.
Sometimes, it isn’t all about trying to find a new sound; there’s a reason why AC/DC have endured throughout the years and all the classic rock copyists from recent years haven’t. ‘Power Up’ achieves exactly what it sets out to do, delivering AC/DC‘s signature brand of good times rock ‘n’ roll that will certainly… lift spirits in these strange times, etc etc. Pardon the work email cliché, but it’s true.