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Self-released (2013)
Rating: 7/10

I always wondered what would happen if US pop star P!nk fronted a heavy rock band, and now I think my dreams have come true. Ajenda are a band hailing from Belfast in Northern Ireland, and in vocalist Jen Walker there is an air of that P!nk vibrancy, melody and attitude. Hell, even Jen’s look can at times take on that P!nk aura, and I’m all for it if she can pull it off and boy can she.

Ajenda play a colourful brand of rock with a poppy tinge, the result being a real breath of fresh air that should certainly appeal to a wide range of music fans.

Even after one listen of their ten-track debut opus, I’m imagining Ajenda doing well in support of well-known bands on the US circuit, because this has a commercial edge to it. Album opener is ‘Dirty Rock ‘N’ Roll’ which, admittedly, does sound like one of those edgy P!nk numbers, from those exquisite harmonies and the deft guitars of Gavin Cairns who acts as an ample backbone to Jen’s tones.

Lyrically, there’s a degree of simplicity about Unrecognizable, as Jen soulfully barks, “Keep the lights low, keep the lights low, set the tone… for the rock show” on ‘Dirty Rock ‘N’ Roll’, the soulful bark bleeding into a nice and catchy little chorus. While ‘Tattoo’ boasts a wistful piano and creates a mood that once again touches on that hard rock edge that P!nk has entertained us with over the years.

That’s not to say that Ajenda are merely P!nk mimics – far from it. ‘Tattoo’ stands alone as a mid-paced rocker that sounds like it’s been rescued from the late 80s. The same could also be said for the title track which features some nice bass structures courtesy of Janny, while Peter’s drums keep to the pace of the fiery guitar.

There’s something harmless about this middle of the road rock record. To be honest, I expected a craving for something more diverse, but one can’t help but be flustered by the breezy ‘Paranoia’ and the brooding ‘Heaven’s Tears’ as Jen rasps, “Maybe the angels can give me one last chance”. Again, I’m hearing a strong P!nk influence.

How Unrecognizable goes down in the UK we’ll have to wait and see, but with the likes of ‘Otherside’ and the acoustically drenched ‘Hollow’ I sense a real talent at the core of this record. However, Jen may suffer with those P!nk comparisons so she needs to find a little bit more identity in those smoking pipes. This is still a nice little record though, ending with the strains of the instrumental ‘Olympus Monz’, which is probably more U2 if anything. A second album can’t come soon enough, because there’s certainly a decent amount of potential here for Ajenda to make a name for themselves.

Neil Arnold

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