Palace — One 4 The Road (Frontiers)

Palace’s 2016 melodic rock romp Masters Of The Universe should have been an intergalactic smash hit.

Instead, it bagged Rushonrock’s Record Of The Week.

Scant reward for the He-Man of pop rock, Michael Palace, some might say.

But we know when we’re onto a good thing.

And if 2018 follow-up Binary Music somehow passed us by (wtf happened there?) then we were all over 2020’s raucous Rock And Roll Radio like a spandex-induced rash.

That preposterously perfect record propelled Palace into our Top 10 AOR Albums of the Year.

And expectations were sky high when Micky P revealed album number 4 (see what he did there) was incoming.

Once again, the Lithuanian-born, Swedish based songwriter punched 1984 into his tried and tested time machine.

And he landed slap bang in the middle of another relentless AOR war.

It’s a familiar battleground soundtracked by explosive riffs, on-target keys and neatly regimented vocal harmonies.

Imagine Journey duelling with Toto before Mutt Lange tosses a few suitably polished Pyromania-pinned grenades into the mix.

There’s simply no escape from the constant barrage of radio friendly nostalgia.

But who, in their right mind, would want to break free from this addictive conflict of the senses?

From day one Rushonrock’s been a prisoner to Palace.

Lock us up and throw away the key.

Fifteen Minutes of fame

Critics will argue fast-paced opener Fifteen Minutes is a hackneyed observation on the fame game.

Sure, its trite message has been heard many times before.

But Michael Palace has never shied away from toe-curling cliché.

In fact, he’s built his formidable reputation on reinventing the well-worn 80s AOR wheel with shameless nods to a less complicated past.

And there’s enough shiny and new about Fifteen Minutes’ familiar narrative to hook the most cynical listener.

Curveball The Driver comes across a little too country rock on a record that’s far from it.

And it’s the least Palace song we’ve heard in a long while.

But Time Crisis is a typically tongue in cheek anthem from a musician plying his peerless trade four decades too late.

Tell me why am I so out of touch’ asks our champion of pop rock cheese.

Many would argue he’s far from it.

Michael Palace might appear to be a performer out of time but he’s perfectly in tune with a retro-hungry audience craving escapism.

He channels the Stranger Things vibe and recalls AOR’s glory days.

Think Journey’s new album…just so much better.

One 4 The Road is a glorious guilt trip.

And we’re not turning back any time soon.