American Angel may be a name that’s new to many, but this New Jersey-based band has a history that dates back to the 1980s. Frontman Rocco Fury is the only remaining member from the group’s original lineup, and it’s his voice that drives Vanity, American Angel’s first new studio album in 15 years.
From the very start, Fury & Co. make it clear that this ain’t no nostalgic ’80s love fest. “Fixed in a stare and you’re standing there / Never getting back to 1984,” he sings to the naysayers during “Pantomind,” a balls-out rocker that features electrifying stabs of bottleneck guitar and propulsive drumming. In fact, the only track that smacks of retro is “Don’t Wait Up,” with its Ratt-like swagger and lyrical machismo. The bulk of Vanity is thoughtful, melodic hard rock, and there are also acoustic-based rockers and ballads like “Warm Inside” and “Another Day” to showcase the band’s softer side. The disc’s momentum only derails during an extended retread of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “On the Hunt.”
The album’s second half opens a more experimental vein. “End of the Night” surprises listeners with a guerrilla Latin percussion breakdown, while the guitar work in “Permanent Pause” has a sense of musical whimsy that would make Queen’s Brian May proud.
By Theodore Thimou