Work of Art, Framework (Frontiers Records, 2014)

Being a big fan of their two previous studio efforts, I eagerly awaited Work of Art's new album, Framework, to arrive. Having lived with the record for a few weeks now, I can say that the wait was well worth it.

If you aren't familiar with them yet, Work of Art is a Swedish power trio comprised of Lars Säfsund (vocals), Robert Sall (guitars, keyboards, bass), and Herman Furin (drums). Signed to Frontiers Records (Night Ranger, Winger, Asia), the band specialize in a pop-inflected strain of AOR that brings to mind a time when artists like Survivor and Richard Marx still had the attention of American radio programmers.

Work of Art's previous two albums—Artwork (2008) and In Progress (2011)—were highly infectious affairs, but with Framework, the trio has upped the ante even higher. It's almost as if the guys sat down with the material and cut out any parts that weren't 100% hooky before they entered the recording studio.

Every single song on the 11-track album is a melodic stunner, packed with soaring choruses and succulent keyboard licks. Songs like "Time to Let Go" and "Natalie" are an AOR fan's wet dream.

In Säfsund, Work of Art possesses the finest melodic rock singer of his generation. If commercial success was based off of talent alone, this guy would be sitting pretty in a mansion overlooking the beach somewhere in the Malibu hills. Just listen to Säfsund's gorgeous vocal performance on the hit-in-waiting track "Hold on to Love." Go ahead and tell me it doesn't sound like it could have come off Toto's Fahrenheit album.

Some would just say that Work of Art are derivative, but as someone who has heard the latest albums by the older groups the Swedes were inspired by, I can say that this is one of those cases where the students are schooling their teachers.

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