Squared is a new melodic rock band that was formed in 2019 by French guitarist Arthur Vere and Swedish singer Jack L Stroem with Strange Affairs being the band’s debut release and like so many other albums these days has been greatly delayed by the COVID epidemic.
The music ended up being recorded in France and Sweden and was patiently compiled only after a seemingly never-ending stream of files were sent and received by the two musicians. The two had the same idea for the direction of the band in that they wanted to capture the golden days of AOR/melodic rock from the 1980s so, effectively, they decided only to use instruments from that period and tried to stay as close as possible to recording and production standards of that period. In many ways the band has conducted pretty much the same exercise as Lordi in that this is the album that Squared would have produced if they had been around in the ’80s, where’s your time machine when you need it?
I do not know too much about Arthur Vere other than this CD shows his to be an excellent guitarist with all the usual skills in terms of riffs and clean, beautiful solos that can take your breath away. Jack L Stroem has some pedigree though and may be known as the guitarist and backing singer for the rather fine Swedish power metal band Vandor. He doesn’t seem to be credited with any guitar on the album, but I’d be surprised if he hasn’t contributed in some way as he too is an excellent guitarist, but he is in the band for his vocal duties on which he performs admirably. He has a high and soaring voice with a great range helping to reinforce the whole ’80s vibe of the package. Vere and Stroem have brought in a couple of session men to fill out the sound with Robin Risander on drums and Kammo Olayvar on bass and together they have produced a very good melodic rock album inspired by the likes of Journey, Toto, REO Speedwagon etc. The songs are neatly written, vocals clean, crisp and typically transatlantic and the guys can be well pleased with the results. Of course, it cannot be compared to the supreme works of Journey, but it is a solid platform to start off with and it will be interesting to see if it develops into a full-time band.
The album is available on download from the usual sources and a CD and cassette version should be available shortly and both will feature the bonus tracks Night Drive Cali and This Feeling with the former probably being the best track on the album with great guitar and stunning keyboards which are remain uncredited.
- One Thousand Years (1:05)
- Stranger At Heart (4:48)
- Personal Matter (4:27)
- Darkest Fantasies (3:46)
- Love Can Be Lonely (4:27)
- Say That You Love Me (4:22)
- Love Affair (4:53)
- Clutching At Straws (4:26)
- Anthem of a Broken Heart (2:55)
- Night Drive Cali (bonus track) (7:37)
- This Feeling (4:38)