The album's title track gets things off to a good start with some classic Thunder bluesy riffing for Bowes to croon over. It is clear that Morley has lost none of his mojo, and his three albums with The Union has not totally overtaken his songwriting outlook. The chorus is a much more laid back affair with gentler guitar lines as opposed to the distorted verses. About half way through, the song descends into a piano-led piece with some lovely lead guitar lines over the top and Bowes' gentle voice. The Thing I Want is a proper Thunder rocker. The upbeat nature of this song brings back memories of their stunning debut album with a catchy vocal refrain in the pre-chorus, and some lush guitar arpeggios in the chorus. This is uncomplicated rock and roll at its best and is a reminder of why Thunder found so much success early on in their career. The Rain brings things down a bit, and we have a song that is more reminiscent of Morley's other band The Union than Thunder. That being said, Thunder have always had slower, bluesy songs on their albums, so this song should not come as a surprise. Bowes' voice is made for songs like this, and it sits nicely above the acoustic guitars, mandolins and subtle keyboards. Black Water is another winner. Co-written with Lynne Jackaman (Saint Jude), this is a strident bluesy rocker that is full of fluid guitar leads and packs a punch with a killer chorus. It has that classic Thunder groove that permeates their whole discography, with a guitar tone and style that only Morley can really achieve. The solo in this song is really melodic and has all the hallmarks of a great classic rock moment. The Prophet is similar, but features a machine-gun rhythm to the riff that would make it a good driving song. There is a certain urgency to this number, with the long, ringing chords that fit in between the aforementioned riff still having a certain energy to them. James' drumming never lets up throughout, and his tightness holds the whole thing together. There is even a great slide guitar solo towards the end. Resurrection Day has quite a summery feel to it with some lovely ringing guitars and a nice, upbeat vibe that you can imagine it being blasted on car radios in the summertime. I can hear a little bit of Foreigner in this song, and I am sure that many fans will take to the accessibility of it. It is an easy to song to get into and sing, and this will probably become a live favourite.
Chasing Shadows is another bluesy rocker, but mid-paced riff means that the song never really gets going like the previous songs on the album. The gospel-type singers that sing in a call-and-response style with Bowes during the choruses work well though, and give the song a bit of an early Black Crowes feel (although maybe a Black Crowes b-side!). That being said, this song is not bad, it just pales in comparison to all the great songs that come before it. It is saved though by a rather tasty solo from Morley that showcases his talents and style. Broken is a piano-led ballad that possesses a fantastic chorus that is sung with real passion by Bowes. The rest of the band join in after the first chorus but the song never loses it's roots, and even a slide guitar solo does not damage to mood, in fact it really adds to it. All rock albums need a good ballad, and this is this album's! When the Music Played is the album's longest song at just over six minutes long, but it does not overstay it's welcome because it is a really enjoyable tune with some slightly discordant riffing and a soaring chorus. Morley's solo in this song is surprisingly fiery, moving outside his usual bluesy comfort zone and into a semi-shredding one. After the solo, the song morphs into a real rocker with a riff that sounds like mid-period Led Zeppelin and another cracking solo. Serpentine is an acoustic-led song, but this is no drippy singer-songwriter drawl, this still rocks and is sure to get your foot tapping as you listen to those catchy acoustic chords and Bowes' playful melody. It does not stay acoustic for ever however, and electric guitars soon replace the acoustics and the song gets a chance to rock out properly. This song should definitely be included in the band's set for their upcoming tour, as it is sure to get everyone moving and singing along. The album comes to an end with the bluesy rocker I Love the Weekend which is built around the traditional twelve bar blues formula and ensures the album ends in familiar fashion. Childs' prominent bassline really holds down the groove, and Morley's Chuck Berry-esque guitar playing is a real homage to all the great early blues rockers. Bowes has a great voice for blues, and he belts this one out fantastically. Overall, Wonder Days is a great addition to Thunder's catalogue. While I am still not wholly versed in their complete discography, I think this is probably their most cohesive work since their debut album all those years ago. Any rock fan should give this a go.
The album was released on 16th February 2015 via earMusic. Below is the band's promotional live video for Wonder Days (N.B. This features Pete Shoulder on guitar instead on Matthews).