Canadians Harem Scarem have made a name for themselves internationally and at home with solid releases such as 1991’s Harem Scarem and the critically acclaimed 1993’s Mood Swings. The Canadians continued to record and release albums throughout the 90’s and 2000’s albeit a little sporadically at times with 1995’s Voice of Reason, 1997’s Karma Cleansing, 2006’s Human Nature and 2008’s Hope. For a short period of time, they even went under the moniker of Rubber except in Japan where they had a loyal fan base. They released two albums under Rubber but soon reverted to Harem Scarem.
Pleased with the reactions from recent touring, Harem Scarem have launched a Pledgemusic campaign to assist in the funding of their soon to be released 13th album. The album is to be cleverly titled Thirteen and the pledge campaign titled Thirteen Weeks to Thirteen. After less than 24 hours into the project, the album was more than 100% funded! Thirteen will be released on December 9, 2014 and the band features originals Harry Hess on vocals/keys, Pete Lesperance on guitars/bass and drummer Creighton Doane sitting in for Darren James Smith who has gone on to perform frontman duties for Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel, but contributes backing vocals for the recording.
Thirteen leads off with “Garden of Eden”, a song that harkens back to Harem Scarem‘s heyday ala Mood Swings. “Live It” sits in the second track position, often the “make or break” slot for me with an album, and does not overly thrill me, but rest assured it’s not a bad composition. “Early Warning Signs” features a catchy hook and is classic Harem Scarem with a melodic chorus, great track! Things turn a little more melodic with “The Midnight Hour”, another that easily holds up to their 1993 release. As many of you may well know I’m less than a fan of ballads, but it’s something to be expected from Harem Scarem and as I fan I accept that. That being said, however “Whatever It Takes” gets skipped in every listen as it’s just not my flavor, but I can tell you it features a chorus loaded with vocal harmonies. “Saints and Sinners” is much more my style, a favorite of Thirteen and a really strong track to bring me back after the ballad. “All I Need” keeps thing moving in this same Harem Scarem fashion through to “Troubled Times”. I can definitely hear this one fitting right in with the revered Mood Swings album, another standout “must hear” track. “Never Say Never” dials down the tempo just a little, but still moves along nicely showcasing the guitar work of Pete Lesperance as does every other track contained here. The longest track at just over the five-minute mark, “Stardust”, serves as the album’s closer. A grinding start gives way for another melodic harmony chorus that Harem Scarem do so well.
Thirteen is an absolute must for not only Harem Scarem fans but melodic rock fans in general, a definite return to form for these Canadians.