Almost two decades on from the release of Tourism Roxette have finally released a sister record to keep the classic collection company among one of the most powerful and inspiring band catalogues in pop music.
Travelling saw it’s release in the UK recently and just like Tourism, the latest collection sees brand new studio recordings sitting same level as a series of live renditions as well as revisited versions of some of the more obscure Roxette recordings. Quite appropriately the new record comes with the same album tagline as its predecessor, ‘Songs from Studios, Stages, Hotelrooms & Other Strange Places’, and just like Tourism that is exactly what has been put together on Travelling.
The band continued their reign of the pop world after a ten year absence with the release of last years Charm School which welcomed the power-pop duo back into the international mainstream and saw a 6 show schedule transform itself into a worldwide tour of almost every continent, playing to over a million fans globally to date and reclaiming their place within pops most elite. Travelling was recorded while the band have been on the road, just like Tourism and the bands Join the Joyride world tour back in 1991/92.
Travelling has had a long list of title changes prior to its release, keeping fans hanging on every moment to the records final resting point. We’ve had Tourism 2, T2, 2rism and finally the end result, Travelling, after the bands record label insisted that numerically titled records didn’t work. One can only assume the band’s label haven’t heard of Adele.
When we first heard of the prospect of a follow up to Tourism expectations were obviously perched up nice and high. After all, Tourism spawned some pretty heavyweight Roxette numbers including Fingertips, Queen of Rain and the phenomenal How Do You Do? as well as some fantastic unreleased tracks that have created a foundation of what the duo’s more avid followers have built thier love for the band around. Travelling certainly began it’s life with a lot of high hopes. Thankfully with this latest outing we haven’t been left dissapointed.
Upon first listen to the record there are the obvious highlights that stick out like a musical beacon. The lead single for the record, It’s Possible, is the winner in this category and the perfect choice to represent Travelling. Its upbeat tempo and hook heavy chorus is exactly why Roxette have maintained such a prolific and acclaimed career over the course of 30 years. As with most of the recent Roxette singles the band share the lead vocals on this number, Per taking the verses and Marie stepping in at chorus time to tear the house down with her powerful vocals, still as distinctive today as they were back in the bands nineties hey-day and sounding unweathered by her time out of the international spotlight.
Me & You & Terry & Julie opens the record and shows off the bands harmonizing skills in the Gessle led verses before Fredriksson takes the bull by the horns and delivers a throbbing chorus that swings and jolts around a catchy up-tempo rhythm and some 60’s scented ‘oh-yeah’ backing vocals creating a perfect opener to the new album.
Lover Lover Lover is an acoustic heavy follower which, again, showcases the bands flawless harmonizing talents while the highlight of the track comes with Marie’s memorable chorus’ over a backdrop of more 1960’s-esque instrumentation, complete with a complimenting horn section and subtle ‘la-la-la’ backing vocals.
Touched By The Hand Of God drips with a radio friendly quality and mainstream pop deliciousness and is an instant hit on the record. It would be very surprising if this track wasn’t considered as the second single release for the album. The number is up-tempo and contains as many hooks as can be crammed into a four minute pop-storm. Again, the track is shared between the duo around a brimming vocal support by Roxette band members Christoffer Lundquist and Helena Josefsson. The track was apparently the original title track to the bands previous Charm School release before being opted as one of the albums out-takes though the song does pay homage to the 2011 release with title references throughout.
A token Fredriksson penned beauty finds position within the track-listing in the touching and beautiful form of See Me. The track was originally a b-side to the bands 1999 ballad Salvation and originally an out-take from 1994’s Crash!Boom!Bang! release. Here we are offered a more matured version of the track. The basic structure hasn’t really been altered too much on the latest version of the song though instrumentally it is given a more acoustic, raw glazing while Fredriksson’s whispery vocals position themselves in the sames places throughout the track. This latest recording doesn’t sound that different to the original but to have the song included on the new album in albeit, a minimalistic altered form, is a treat nonetheless.
Another Roxette B-side, The Weight of the World, originally featured as the bonus track on the bands 2002 Top 20 single A Thing About You, also finds its way into the recording of Travelling. Not a particular highlight among the Roxette rarities collection but the new recording of the track is a nice addition to the track-listing and offers a new angle for the track to be heard here.
Fredriksson supplies the album with some truly memorable and engaging ballads, doing what she does so beautifully. Turn of the Tide is one of the notable balladic moments offered on the record and sees the singer belting through a vulnerable four minute number overflowing with strings and a classic Roxette chorus, as dynamic and heartfelt as ballads come. Another laid back moment is pulled together with Perfect Excuse which was recorded and featured on Gessle’s 2008 solo record Party Crasher and was a vocally shared track between himself and Helena Josefsson who was a featured vocalist on the recording alongside Gessle for the project. This time around however, Gessle falls into the background and lets the ladies work thier charm on the recording with Fredriksson doing a faultless job at breathing life into one of Gessle’s more recent songwriting gems with the backing vocal support of Josefsson.
Another personal highlight on Travelling is the inclusion of Stars, one of the bands more techno inspired single releases from the Have A Nice Day years. The number is delivered to us in sound-check form, taken from the bands sound-check in Dubai last May. Fredriksson continues to tear through dance influenced numbers as swiftly as the bands early years and that is heard throughout this one.
Just like Tourism we are offered a live version of one of the bands most iconic hits, It Must Have Been Love. The version featured on Travelling was recorded as part of the bands 2009 Night of the Proms performances, the first concerts for Roxette since Fredriksson fell ill back in 2002. Minus the screaming crowds featured at the beginning of the Tourism version of the bands signiture ballad, this latest delivery is sweet and stripped back while providing timeless evidence of Gessle’s songwriting genius.
There seems to be no stopping Roxette and with the bands world tour proving to be a never-ending globetrotter as well as this weeks announcement of the bands first US dates since the early nineties, they show no sign of slowing down at all and that is welcome news for Roxette fans and pop lovers alike. Travelling is another phenomenal collection of updated classics, raw and emotive ballads and newly penned gems tied together into an infectious, pop coated package that finds its place within the incredible Roxette back catalogue with both undeniable ease and comfort.
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