After charming fans around the world and selling more than 3 million albums at the height of the millennium’s pop horizon, acclaimed trio and UK sensation BBMAK are back in full force following an almost 20-year break from the music industry with their highly anticipated new album, Powerstation. The charismatic English trio made up of Mark Barry, Christian Burns and Stephen “Ste” McNally, are not only putting a fresh, mature spin on their signature sound with new flavors and styles, but they are still proving to be the real deal in a sea of comeback bands even after all these years.
Produced by BBMAK, Jonathan Radford Mead, Steve Christantho and Firebox via Triple Jet Music/Topanga Creek Records LLC, the 10-track album of lush and lively guitar-driven tracks touching on all aspects of life, love and heartbreak might evoke memories for fans of the band’s first two albums, but Powerstation proves to be its own magnetic entity with an ambitious collection that beams brightly past their older work. With the three best known for writing their own songs and playing their own instruments among a former sea of boybands, the new album shows Barry, Burns and McNally haven’t lost their knack for strong songwriting, runaway hooks and celestial harmonies.
Blending flavors from their debut sound with a modernity full of bigger choruses, grander textures and throwback hooks to inspired influences, BBMAK’s latest finds them evolving through a variety of sounds and styles. There’s a commendable maturity and change heard within the record that underscores a commanding presence in the experience each has felt within the lyrics.
Starting off Powerstation with the fun and infectious “Bullet Train,” the groovy, cool track, which evokes a styling almost similar to The Police in its initial guitar riff, plays to the band’s natural evolution. Acting almost as a love song for the fans, it most adoringly also throws back to BBMAK’s signature three-part harmony as a locomotive powering through experience and maturity. “So Far Away” is a powerful song of soaring guitars and huge drums complemented by their harmonious voices, detailing a drive for longing and belonging.
“No One Like You” is a sharp, intimate and anthemic love song about infatuation and being with the one you love. The lyrics are both passionate and raw, and include exquisite elevated vocals playing to the feeling felt in such an intense passion. “Uncivil War” is the absolute opposite with its power ballad of a relationship that’s no longer what it was, tarnished by “bruises that cover our scars” and “words we don’t mean.” Complemented by sophisticated instrumentation and smooth vocals, it’s a tender track that will surely resonate with the band’s now grownup fans.
“You Don’t See Me” starts off slow like a signature BBMAK song, but builds up to a great rhythm and beat reminiscent of sounds off their first album, Sooner or Later. Pulling at an emotion of immense desire and need, it’s tragic but beams of optimism with uplifting beats and deeply relatable lyrics. Drawing their voices into smooth, unadulterated harmonies, “We Can Be Lovers” is another track on the spectrum of love, outlining second chances with sweet, gentle guitars and smooth as honey lyrics that are nothing short of poetry and pure art as heard with a lyric like, “a lonely silhouette from a broken place.”
In what might be the best song on Powerstation, “Wolves” is immaculate in everything from production to lyrics and overall directional sound. Inducing immense emotion and feeling through a tender piano, a soft guitar and indulgent vocals, the warm, impassioned love song is the very best of Barry, Burns and McNally and encompasses the trio’s true spirit in what makes them BBMAK.
Accentuated with a chirpy piano and guitar, “Falling Up” is a fun, upbeat track that evokes memories of the band’s yesteryear sound and is both lovable and buoyant with its spirited message of moving forward in spite of fears keeping you down. With the album nearing its storied conclusion, “Out of Time” is another love song that plays to the brightness of a relationship with suave harmonies, peppered with dashing instrumentation and plays to the overall message.
Ending off the record with its titular track, “Powerstation” feels like the perfect closing and one that throws it right back to the first track, “Bullet Train.” Tender, warm and delicate with its arrangement of smooth guitars and vocals, it’s a short song brimming with optimism and wisdom through lyrics that detail how “we can have just what we want, if we open up our eyes to the sun.”
If the album is any proof of what we really want, we’re all better for having more BBMAK in 2019, and in the years to come. Though they’ve been out of the industry for 16 years, Barry, Burns and McNally are still a force to reckon with, pushing into unfamiliar territory while evolving their signature sound of everlasting vocals and tender lyrics. Lyrically, the record deals with the onset of maturity and experience, combined with a forward-thinking approach that proves BBMAK is “Back Here” for the long haul with a hunger for new sounds, styles and an admirable evolution that deserves applaud.
Powerstation is out now on digital retailers, iTunes and Amazon, and available for streaming. Their upcoming tour, Back Here is set to kick off in San Diego, California on Nov. 3 and wrap up overseas in Glasgow, UK on Dec. 16. Visit their official website for further tour and album information.
Photo credit: BBMAK / @bbmakofficial