In reality, a Poodle is an overly groomed lap dog lavished and spoiled by their middle to upper class owners and they tend to make a lot of noise but pose no real threat or harm to adults or children. Life imitates art. I was tricked by Swedish band The Poodles about 4 years ago when they released their Performocracy album, sucked in by their slick look and their quadruple kick drums only to find the band consistently inconsistent. 2013’s Tour De Force growled and showed its teeth, making its way into the Swedish Top 10 along with the band’s previous releases. This years release, Devil In The Details, is a perplexing mix of melodic metal, hard rock and pop songs that simply makes me wish this band would go one way or the other. Devil In The Details is the bands only release not to enter the Swedish Top 10. Sweden seems to be the mecca of melodic rock and metal these days, but maybe the fire is becoming dim.
“Before I Die” begins the album with a bang and reminds me of recent Dream Theater, although my heart sinks at the sound of the synthetic drums that remain constant throughout the band’s catalog. Nevertheless, singer Jakob Samuel, guitarist Henrik Bergqvist, bassist Johan Flodqvist, and drummer Christian Lundqvist deliver a strong album opener that is dark and melodic with a big chorus. “House Of Cards” has a soulful intro in the vein of Sly Stone with a driving beat and an ample guitar solo. Track 3, “The Greatest” is a song that if American Radio could embrace, might catapault The Poodles to new levels of success. It has that common pulsing beat found in a great deal of American Pop Music along with melodic anthemic choruses in the vein of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Maroon 5. When I hear this tune I can envision a club full of twentysomethings jumping in unison to its infectious chorus. Next comes “Crack In The Wall”, a Scandinavian flavored pop rocker with a very brief flamenco guitar interlude prefacing the guitar solo. “(What The Hell) Baby” is more evidence that today’s American Pop is highly influential abroad. “Everything” is a big anthemic rocker and even with its Scandinavian flavorings harkens me back to a time in my youth when this song could’ve easily been found on an album by Slaughter or Firehouse. The 2nd half of Devil In The Details is like the first; some tracks being stronger than others. “Life Without You” and “Creator And Breaker” are both tracks worth checking out. Overall, this album sounds great and is well produced but would serve me better if it were more consistent in style.