Review Summary: A prime example of well-executed AOR.
AOR can be the very definition of hit-or-miss; when it’s bad it can easily become awful but unless you’re a miserable sod, it can also be rewarding, especially during summer. At the end of the day, who doesn’t love a catchy melody" Survivor, as a band, is synonymous with their hits “Eye of the Tiger” and “Burning Heart”, however, Vital Signs
may very well be their most consistent and stellar effort. Featuring Jimi Jamison (ex-Cobra, also written and performed the Baywatch theme song) on vocals for the first time, Survivor’s fifth LP is more keyboard-oriented and less hard rocking than its predecessor, Caught in the Game
. Nevertheless, the blueprint remained more or less the same with vocal-driven tracks, an emphasis on creating memorable melodies, acoustic guitars, clever harmonies, lots of build-ups and cheesy lyrics around love-related matters.
However, where the album succeeds compared to other AOR LPs is in the songwriting and execution departments. The keyboards are used efficiently, the overall atmosphere is not over the top, and Jimi Jamison’s voice fits the slightly changed Survivor sound perfectly. With the exception of the overdramatic “The Search is Over” and the passable “I See You in Everyone” – which can easily be among your favorites if you’re a big fan of ballads – every track on here has single potential. From the uplifting “I Can’t Hold Back” and the tender “High on You”, to the driving rhythm of “Broken Promises” and the energetic “Popular Girl”, Vital Signs
is full of feel-good moments. In addition, the guitars are used more sparingly than in the past but they add a nice flavor such as in the form of a tasty solo on “It’s the Singer not the Song”. Finally, clocking at 36 minutes, the album doesn’t prolong its stay. Granted, Vital Signs
is not for everyone and every occasion but given the right circumstances (during summertime or a road trip), it can be a very rewarding listen.