Night Driver


East West, 2016

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


British trio Busted formed in 2000 and over the next few years gained a fair amount of success with their take on the pop/punk/rock thing that had found its second wind during the late ‘90s to early ‘00s. Busted put out two rather average (but fun) albums in quick succession, the self-titled debut in 2002 and A Present For Everyone the following year, and they toured behind both records. 2004 saw the release of both a live and compilation album, and the band announced the following year that it was all over.

Some ten years later, members from both Busted (minus Charlie Simpson) and McFly came together and formed McBusted, putting out an album in late 2014 and hitting the road to support it. Following the tour, the original Busted lineup came back together and started work on a new album, which would be their first in over a decade. The surprising aspect of the reunion was the new direction the group had taken in the studio, as instead of just reforming and running through the motions, the lads traded their choppy punk licks for some slick, mature, and dare I say it, sexy synth rock – and it worked. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Night Driver was produced by John Fields, who co-wrote and played on most tracks across the album, and features Charlie Simpson on vocals, drums, guitars, and programming, James Bourne on vocals, guitars, and keyboards and Matt Willis on vocals and bass. There’s a small handful of players that were brough in for certain tracks; however, as slick as the production is, it is very much a “band sounding” album. There’s also heavy ‘80s vibes going on here both sonically and visually; the videos released were heavy on the neon, and check out that font on the cover art.

The first I heard of this band reunion and album was catching the first single dropped on the radio. That song “Coming Home” opens the album and had me intrigued enough to pick up Night Driver upon its release. The second single “On What You’re On” is stronger again and is the prefect blend of tech and real instruments – and in true ‘80s style, there’s even a sax solo thrown into the mix. The title track is another really strong cut and is my personal favourite on the record; its pure ‘80s glossy pop rock but done right, the vocals are moody, and it is insanely catchy.

“New York” is an epic (the Phil Collins-esque drums are awesome) tale of lost love among the bright lights of NYC, “Thinking Of You” blends some funk guitar riffing with a slick electro rhythm track, and “Without You” is another fat slice of perfectly cooked ‘80s pop rock. Deep into the album, there is still no drop off as “Kids With Computers” and “I Will Break Your Heart” keep the momentum flowing nicely. There’s really only two departures from the bulk of the material here: “Easy” is a stripped-down, mid-tempo track mostly consisting of live instruments with very little tech used – it’s a nice change-up, as is the album’s closer. “These Days Are Gone” brings this glorious set to an end in style. It’s a beautiful piano-led ballad that morphs back into ‘80s club land with all the swagger of Don Johnson in a monochromatic linen pants suit jumping into his ’86 Ferrari Testarossa.

Night Driver was a great concept executed perfectly that pays homage to the ‘80s night life without ever sounding cliched or desperate.

Rating: A-

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© 2020 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of East West, and is used for informational purposes only.