Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Renowned For Sound

For the latest music reviews and interviews

Album Review: Scorpions – Return To Forever

2 min read

Return To Forever, the new release from hard-rock legends Scorpions, is theoretically a pretty bad release. It’s predictable, shallow, and repetitive. So the question then is this: why on earth do I like it so much?

Scorpions Return To ForeverAt the very least, it seems clear that time has gotten to Scorpions ever so slightly. One need only compare Return To Forever’s artwork with the still confronting image that adorned Virgin Killer to see that the group has mellowed somewhat. Although the opening strains of Hard Rockin’ The Place has a lavish, gritty edge, the rest of the song is pretty predictable stuff. Similarly, the sheen of Rock N Roll Band hides a pretty empty core: neither the lyrics nor the instrumentation comes close to breaking new ground.

But here’s that same problem arising again: as much as part of me knows that this sound has been done to death, not least of all by Scorpions themselves, it would be wrong of me to imply that this is anything but an ultimately enjoyable record. Even the album’s most artistically bereft songs, such as the hair-rock anthem Going Out With A Bang or the lighter-waving noodling of House Of Cards, are relentlessly fun. Sure, there’s some pretty vapid tunes on Return To Forever and the shock and grit that marked out their earlier releases for excellence has faded somewhat, but the smile that broke out across my face as the album began scarcely dipped over the course of the record’s 12 tracks.

Rollin’ Home is the high point of the record, and perhaps the track that best encapsulates the overall tone of the album. On the one hand, it’s so full of swagger and sheen that it wouldn’t feel out of place if played by hair-rock satirists Steel Panther, but on the other hand it really works. There’s no use thinking about the tune for too long, but the facts remain the same: it’s toe-tapping, exuberant stuff.

Return To Forever is a guilty pleasure then, in the truest sense of the word. Although on paper the record sounds like a colossal failure, and its dull edges point to a band that are holding on to a genre that may have died the moment grunge came crashing back onto the scene in the 90’s, it holds its own in a special, somewhat tucked away place in my heart. It’s the Plan 9 From Outer Space of hard-rock records: goofy, cheesy, but so goddamn loveable it hurts.