We Don't Belong

1. Black Cat
2. What If
3. In For the Ride
4. Inside of Me
5. Follow Her Home
6. Blind Hearted
7. Here I Am
8. Access Denied
9. Coming Home
10. We Don't Belong

Robin Ericsson - Bass/Lead vocals
Mats Ericsson – Drums
Micke Jansson – Keyboards
Jesper Adefelt - Guitar/Backing vocals
Daniel Johansson - Guitar/Backing Vocals

Life, Love, Loss (2010)

Bill Champlin (Vocals)

Erik Lidbom (Producer, engineer, mix)

Released 2013-09-02
Reviewed 2013-09-12

aor records

I can't say I've found 2013 the best of years when it comes to really good albums so far. Sure, there's been quite a lot of good albums but when it comes to the really good ones, the great ones, there's been more to wish for. So far I can count the great albums I've reviewed on my left hand, which is quite poor after nine months, but when you get an album like 'We Don't Belong' it's easy to forget this and just think it's a great year! Because this album is so good you just want to lean back and enjoy it!

Degreed comes from Sweden and plays AOR. Their music feels like they've found a route in to something that is completely right and it wasn't too long ago another Swedish band did the same in the AOR genre (the latest full point scorer on Hallowed, W.E.T. and their 'Rise Up'). Even if Degreed don't reach the full score they've made one of the best albums of 2013 with 'We Don't Belong' and the great songs just keep coming over and over during the 35 minutes and ten tracks that makes this album. 35 might sound little and it feels little too, which of course means they've made the perfect choice of length - you should leave the fans yearning for more (!) not longing for the end. Most of what comes out of 'We Don't Belong' is pure gold and that's of course something good since it means you'll get rich! But the pure gold isn't pure in the sense it's real of course, it's more a metaphorical gold so you'll get rich of good music, not money-wise.

I realise now that I've been somewhat overwhelmed by this album in my review and that's of course not particularly good for my credibility so before we continue this praising I better squeeze in something about what could have been better - if there is any. Personally I think one or two of the songs don't really reach out to me, which I think is because the flow just doesn't feel as good as in the rest of the songs. Here I Am is the weakest link and maybe the first single What If could be mentioned here as well (but this doesn't mean that you won't like these). Another thing I'm not completely sure about is the über represented pop sound that shines through all over the album. Most of the songs have something that feels radio pop and I can particularly hear plenty of the big 90's radio music in this - especially plenty of boy-band sounds - and that might not be so surprising considdering theyr producer Erik Lindblom is a professional song writer that has sold millions of albums. But then there are also plenty of pure 80's west coast rock present in the music and all though that kind of is the 80's pop music it's at least rock.

Speaking of rock, the tracks that rocks the hardest on this album are the tracks that I like best, like the opening track Black Cat. After this heavy beginning the album softens successively and then ends with a piano ballad that might as well could have been performed by Backstreet Boys, but that doesn't mean it's bad and I like it. The album feels very positive and it leaves me with positive feelings as well, the good vibrations shines all over the album and I like most about it very much!

I like the voice of the lead vocalist, which is very comfortable to listen to. I like the nice keyboard works that in some tracks are extremely present and in others stays more in the background. I like the humble string section that most of the time doesn't try to get notice despite being very good. I also like the many great songs that just keeps on coming. I like the steady drum beat and the constrasting vocals by guest vocalist Bill Champlin and I especially like the nice and clean production and the sanitized mixing. The album as a whole is so striking and I've listened to this album so much now that I'm sure it's not just a first impression - this album is one of the best this year!

So far this year I've only found heavy album that I think belongs in the top scores, but Degreed is not a heavy band. They play soft, smooth music with heavier elements. This album would work just as well on a teenage disco as on a barbecue party with parents in the 40's and 50's. Degreed is definitely a good band and 'We Don't Belong' is definitely a good album. I'm sure this album will found a way to the hearts of most people that'll give it a chance!



Label: AOR Records/Connecting Music
Three similar bands: W.E.T/Bonrud/Wheels of Fire
Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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