HOUSE OF SHAKIRA – Pay To Play
Signing to the Australian record label Melodic Rock Records, House Of Shakira is a Swedish group releasing their seventh studio album in "Pay To Play" – hot on the heels of last year’s "HoS" record. Heeding my plea for a quicker follow up (as 5 years between "Retoxed" and "HoS" was far too long of a wait to these ears), the 12 songs showcase a confident, veteran melodic hard rock band with a firm understanding of what’s necessary to satisfy the fans.
Right out of the gate the mid-tempo title track anthem shines with these slow hitting, bluesy guitar harmonies from Mats Hallstensson and Anders Lundstrom as well as this ‘playful’ melody from vocalist Andreas Novak that reminds me of Y&T during their "Contagious" time period. "All You Want" has more commercial aspirations, a fine old school organ shimmering during the chorus with bright vocal harmonies bringing the song home. Going right for the hook line early in a happy manner, "When the Cats Away" and "Dog Eat Dog" contain a lot of firm Sunset Strip ethics, the background vocals of the latter remindful of Baton Rouge meets Loverboy circa "Lovin’ Every Minute of It" while drummer Martin Larsson delivers some nifty fills during this slower, groove-oriented arrangement.
Some of my favorites include the Thin Lizzy guitar runs and soulful vocals throughout "Dopamine Junkie" and the down and dirty number "Two Things" that reverts back to a lot of the roots of 70’s hard rock. House of Shakira may not be the flashiest of melodic hard rock bands, but they execute their songwriting with thick riffing, smart melody choices and carry things through with super multi-part vocal harmonies.
A great follow up to "HoS", "Pay to Play" proves these musicians mean business and aren’t going anywhere but up in terms of sustaining or broadening their following.