Sound: Harem Scarem is a relatively unknown band from Canada who are pretty huge in Japan (but then who isn't?) I would never have heard of them if I had not lived in Japan for a year. They have already released more than 8 albums and their sound has been different in each one of them. Their debut was a mushy-rock eponymous effort which would definitely please anyone with an ear for melodic pop rock. But even in that these guys displayed a penchant for a heavier sound. Harry Hess the vocalist, although can turn our crooning numbers with ease, he also can scream to kingdom come. The song "Slowly Slipping Away" starts with amazing melodic riffs and can be compared to some of the best rock ballads of all time.
They followed that up with the amazing MoodSwings. That by far has been their most musically creative as well as the most loved album to date. Released in 1993, it proved that these guys could not be ignored. The album kicks of with a out-and-out rocker Saviours Never Cry. Great riffs, great vocals and great choruses. Then comes the masterpiece of the album "No Justice." Here Harem Scarem proves that they can rock with the best! Very catchy (and heavy) guitar riffs matched by great vocals and an virtuouso solo by Pete Lesperance, the lead guitarist. If you have not heard of this one beg borrow steal. The album provides a melodic relief in the form of a sweet rock ballad "Stranger Than Love." "Change Comes Around" ups the tempo again with great riffs and an imminently hummable chorus. "Jealousy" is a great (almost bluesy) mid-tempo number which shows off Hess's versatile vocal abilities. "Sentimental Boulevard" is the next track again mid-tempo, catchy melodies and catchy choruses. The next track "Mandy" is an instrumental that makes you go "Hey, is that Joe Satriani?" Only not. It is just Pete Lesperance on an ordinary day. "Empty Promises" could have been a great track but the instrumentation is a little confused. I am sure if they had to do it again they could have been better. The next one "If There Was A Time" is my personal favorite but that is because I love larger-than-life songs with lots of guitars and keyboards and melody that is foot-tapping to say the least. You will notice how Harry screams in the intro. This song was made for a music video (which by the way I have not found yet) "Just Like I Planned" takes a dramatic turn into the unknown with the band trying their hand at a "Al Cappella" number. No instrumentation just Harry and his background vocals. Can't imagine Whitesnake doing something like this. The album ends with a an uptempo rocker "Had Enough" great guitarwork on this one by Pete. The intro sounds almost like Petrucci/Dream Theater.
All in all, a very interesting and pleasing album. An uplifting effort that the band struggled to match in their future efforts. Definitely worth a listen. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are not Dream Theater but hey they are not Dream Theater. // 6
Overall Impression: Definitely better than anything Whitesnake, or Great White, or White Lion or all those moronic bands have ever done. I love the variety and radio-friendliness of the band. But without being excessively mushy. A refereshing sound. If it were stolen, doesn't matter I have two CDs of Mood Swings! // 10