Review by: Julien Mansencal
Album assigned by: Nina Anatchkova
Unusual Heat is the proverbial album with no reason to exist. Then again, how could it have one? When third-rate bands like Foreigner lose a key member, they rarely follow the wise path of disbanding and turning to more fitting jobs, like, I don’t know, driving trucks or something. No, when third-rate bands lose a key member, nine times out of ten they’ll go for the cheapest replacement available and soldier on. Granted, when you compare departed Lou Gramm with stand-in Johnny Edwards, the quality gap is not that noticeable, but still, they should have heeded the call. Especially since the time was 1991 and the world really had no longer any use for a band like Foreigner.
That’s not to say that they don’t try to follow the trends. Unusual Heat largely discards the cheesy 80s synthesizers that were so dominant on Inside Information in favour of a sound that’s more guitar-based but less distinctive. And Foreigner never were that distinctive to begin with, so that’s saying something. Apart from that, the band goes through the motions, ticking all the boxes on their grocery list of How to Make a Record: half-assed crunchy rockers, check. Sappy power ballads, check. Unmemorable, run-of-the-mill guitar solos, check. Lyrics ranging from the useless to the abysmal, check. Cheap, ugly cover art, check. About a dozen songs, check. And since this is the beginning of the CD era, all of them are four to five minutes long, because why the hell not? Foreigner want to waste as much as your time as they can. And now they’ve made me their accomplice, since I’ve wasted YOUR time by writing two paragraphs about this nothing.
Even a perfect sphere has more of a point than this. I won’t say “avoid it at all costs,” since I can’t imagine how anyone would face the possibility of listening to this record that has justly fallen into oblivion. It would take an absurd situation, like a reviewing contest about bad records or something.