For so many bands the sophomore album is often difficult, patchy and never lives up to the promise of their breakthrough release. However Apollo Junction smash that theory into a centillion pieces. This is an outstanding album and if it doesn’t feature in all of those best album of 2021 lists in the next few weeks I will be very surprised and incredibly disappointed. Seven of the eleven tracks (twelve tracks on the vinyl release) have been released as singles which might suggest that the remaining five tracks might be pure filler, but they most certainly are not, every song here is an absolute masterpiece. Apollo Junction certainly know and appreciate their rock history and they have what might be described as a dark glam sound, which not many other bands can match. It is clear that Jamie, Matt, Jonathan, Ben and Sam have used this awful Covid driven 18 months really well. I loved their first album, ‘Mystery’ from 2019, but frankly while that was a very good album, ‘All In’ is a truly great album that we will still be listening to in many years.
The album kicks off with “Light Up The Sky” and that is what this full on glam stomper does in a way that is unmatched even by the most explosive and expensive fireworks. The initial 20 second orchestral overture lulls you into a relaxed sense and then those massive drums kick in. It has some proper tasty funky metal overtones and elements of their signature electro sound. This song epitomises that dark glam description I gave in the opening paragraph and after a few listens to the album this is probably my favourite track, but only just. Slightly more in a Depeche Mode meets the Human League vibe is “Porcelain” which has anthem written all over it. In your face rocker “Two Car Family” hits you next and it is another thunderous banger of a tune. A thumping thumping, infectious glam rock beat that Don Powell would be proud of and some mostly upbeat positive lyrics. If this tune does not make you move then you need an appointment with your doctor. If you need to catch your breath after the last track then “Rooftops” will give you a small, ok tiny, opportunity to do that. Apollo Junction have a knack of producing sublime anthems and “Rooftops” is the kind of track that U2 would kill for. I sensed an Echo and the Bunnymen influence in “On The Ropes” although I think Jamie has a slightly more dynamic and emotional voice than Ian McCulloch. It is hard not to love “When We Grow Up” which is pure Indie Pop Rock at it’s best, with a chorus that Pete Wylie would be proud of. The multi tracked vocals towards the end make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. (Check the video out too, it features a host of Apollo Junction fans, including me)
“Sometimes” is New Order smashing head on into U2 while letting Brandon Flowers into the room as well. The lyrics feel quite deep and personal, but ultimately very positive. The funky, summery guitar opening, courtesy of Matt, of “Unknowns” has hit single written all over it. Matt’s bass is supremely powerful here and the lyrics are very clever. How can you not love this line, “like a dinosaur in the last disco”. “Borderlines” is a staggeringly good fast paced rocker with an 80s Simple Minds feel that you can easily imagine blasting out across festival fields all over the world. It is underpinned by more of that ace glam rock drum sound. This whole album feels like a greatest hits package and next up is “Forever” which I once described as close to being a perfect lockdown anthem. I stand by that description 100%. It is upbeat, has a happy vibe, and a great singalong hook. There is a more acoustic, very slightly slower feel to “Are You Happy” which is a more understated anthem than the preponderance of banging tunes that precede it. The “hidden track”, “Our Goodbye” which I think is only available on the vinyl release has a John Lennon influence in the keyboards, lyrics and vocal phrasing. Earlier Apollo Junction asked “Are You Happy” I can categorically state that I am ecstatic, this is a stunning album and you need to get your hands on it as soon as you can! It is officially released tomorrow, Friday 12th November on Shedload Records.
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