Being the first band I ever saw live, an incredible 31 years ago, hard rock band Thunder held a special meaning to me, so I was particularly enthusiastic about reviewing their new 16 track double-album Dopamine.
Thunder – Dopamine (BMG)
Release Date: 29 April 2022
Words: Karen Hill
Curious about where the title of the album comes from, it was interesting to learn that Guitarist, songwriter and co-founder Luke Morley found his inspiration from the search for “happy hormones” during the pandemic lockdown as the world retreated in a mission to find these through social media.
I was initially surprised that Dopamine is a 16 track double album and even more surprised that 20 songs had initially been written. “It wasn’t an easy choice,” Morley said of the four-song reduction process.
“We didn’t set out to make a double album,” Luke Morley said, “but as the writing and recording process went on, we wandered into some interesting areas, and then it became a case of ‘can we afford to leave any of this off?'”
Even though I am a massive fan of Thunder, I was slightly concerned that the theme behind the album may make it depressing, and it could contain those “filler” album tracks being the length it is.
I was very relieved to learn, though, that this is most definitely not the case, and lead Singer Danny Bowes’ vocals are still as impressively powerful and clear three decades on!
The album kicks off with their first single release, The Western Sky, which celebrates the band’s annual trans-American charity motorbike trip in the song and the video. It is heavier sounding than I was expecting, but in a powerful modern way that works really well.
The second track, One Day We’ll Be Free Again, is an optimistic, uplifting vision of a post-lockdown future. In contrast, musically, the third track, Even If It Takes A Lifetime, begins with a slow rock country sound but builds up in an intense, inspiring way.
My own personal favourite track is Black, which is unique in its musical melody and riffs. This is classic Thunder, incredibly catchy, despite the lyrics about a “world turning black” following a failed relationship.
Another highlight for me is Last Orders. The vocals at the start are a twist, and I love the way the song builds up in a style slightly reminiscent of the band Green Day.
Fans of the song Love Walked In won’t be disappointed as the album contains the softer on the ears ballads Unravelling and Is Anybody Out There.
I also love this album’s complete contrast in musical styles. Big Pink Supermoon has a different ‘Swing’ style, while Just A Grifter glides into a continental sound. The Dead City is an impressive piece and is reminiscent of the original sound of the band.
Across The Nation is an in your face Thunder classic. “This is a very direct song,” Luke says, “about being in a band but not being able to tour. The frustration we feel because of that is huge, so we’re very much looking forward to the time when we can get out there and play.”
I Don’t Believe The World builds up to a gospel style, and the final track, No Smoke Without Fire, would be very appropriate as a theme for a James Bond Film.
The recent single, Dancing In The Sunshine, really sums up the whole general feel of Dopamine. Thunder are a band who have emerged brighter, optimistic and raring to go, despite lockdown.
The originality and heart that has been put into Dopamine make it a whole bigger experience than your average rock album, and my own “happy hormones” have most certainly been released.
The comeback album Wonder Days marked the band’s return in 2015 in great fashion. But, while last year’s All The Right Noises hit the top three in the UK album charts, Dopamine has the quality to top that, showing that Thunder are masters of their craft.
Thunder are now easily one of the best British hard rock bands of the past three decades.
Dopamine is available in CD and double LP vinyl, with exclusive lenticular cover versions available only from the Thunder online store. Visit thunderband.lnk.to/DopamineID
CD1 / LP1
- The Western Sky
- One Day We’ll Be Free Again
- Even If It Takes a Lifetime
- The Dead City
- Last Orders
- All the Way
CD2 / LP2
- Dancing in the Sunshine
- Big Pink Supermoon
- Across the Nation
- Just a Grifter
- I Don’t Believe the World
- Is Anybody Out There?
- No Smoke Without Fire