Well, who saw this coming then, Butch Walker, Jayce Fincher and Mitch McLee getting the band back together? Nineties power pop sensations Marvelous 3 are back with a boom! The Atlanta, Georgia trio were one of those turn of the century bands that coulda-shoulda-woulda, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be for them. Sure, they had a radio hit with ‘Freak Of The Week’, but in hindsight they should’ve been household names. Sadly, some things just ain’t meant to be. Butch went on to greater things, producing some of the biggest stars in the music business and building a more than respectable solo career with a bunch of awesome albums that get better with every release.
But here we are in 2023 with a new Marvelous 3 album titled ‘IV’, their 4th long player, and it just happens to be not only the most unexpected release of the year, but quite possibly the best of the year. Yes, it’s that good.
I can safely say ‘IV’ is all killer and no filler. It’s one of those instant albums that connects on the very first listen. I gave it four plays on release day I was that hooked. And the opening two tracks are so strong you’ll need a muscle relaxant to wipe the smile off your face.
If you are a Butch fan, but maybe unaware of Marvelous 3, think back to those early solo albums before the Americana and Country influences became prevalent. ‘IV’ contains balls to the wall, power pop anthems that are steeped in nostalgia and euphoria. Always a great lyricist who places characters and scenes in his storytelling, Butch Walker has excelled himself here. The lyrical themes are full of retrospection and reflection, the melodies and song dynamics are memorable, interesting and exciting, the guitar riffs spikey and metallic.
Butch Walker has a way of rekindling old loves, (whether it be romantic or musical) like few songwriters can. Take album opener ‘Old School Metal Heart’ and its accompanying home movie video made up of footage of the trio from their hair metal SouthGang days. It’s a typical Butch melody with a killer hook and a story of teenage bands that namechecks Maiden and Slayer in respective choruses. It will give you goosebumps and maybe a yearning itch to form a band. Hook-laden and euphoric, it’s a strong start. Damn they’re good!!
I mentioned a killer one-two, well ‘Kill The Motherfucker That Breaks Your Heart’ is the second. A sonically seductive riff, and man, just that opening chord progression gives me goosebumps before the singer has even set the scene of a guy being protective over a girl. Did I mention the rousing chorus? Hand’s down, song of the year for me, ‘nuff said.
It makes you wonder how long Butch has had these songs on the backburner waiting for the right moment to unleash them on the world. His last few solo albums have been concept records in one form or another, full of retro vibes and countrified goodness and I was wondering where he was going to go after last year’s ‘Glenn’ opus.
From stadium-styled Springsteen rockers like ‘Jackie & Tina’, killer anthemic singles like ‘If We’re On Fire (Let It Burn)’ onto more acoustic radio hits like ‘Time To Let It Go’ and big ballad closer ‘Curtains’ everything just seems relatable, familiar and damn good. It seems a natural progression from their last album 25 years ago.
More than anything this album is a fun listen. It sounds like 3 school friends with not a care in the world playing their hearts out. At times you forget Marvelous 3 are in their 50’s because ‘IV’ sounds like a young and hungry band on their first record with everything to prove and nothing to lose, and they should be commended for pulling it off with such ease. For me, ‘IV’ is album of the year, no contest. Now the struggle continues to find the damn thing on vinyl in the UK, but for now stream it like it’s the last album you’ll ever hear because I certainly am.
Author: Ben Hughes