Earlier today I played a game with my friend on the phone. We were talking about AC/DC, which is something I both didn't know I would be doing in this the year of our Lord 2020 and deeply wish I was not, and I suggested that I play any single song from the group to see if they could guess if it came from the 1970's, 1980's, or this new album. They consistently were wrong because it was virtual guesswork.
This is AC/DC's thesis statement when you boil it down. They craft loud, vaguely bluesy hard rock that is as one-note as it comes and have done so now for forty-five years. They have made a long and incredible career based on this format, with some of the most recognizable hard rock songs in history, almost in spite of the fact that they all sound nearly identical to each other.
Power Up should shock no one that it commits to the format that has made them one of the highest selling groups, not just in the United States but worldwide. Of course they would, because old fans will gladly lap up this album for everything it is worth. It suits the taste of the same fans they have had in those forty-five years, along with every teenager whose hard rock dad indoctrinated them into the fold. Make no mistake, it's a calculated formula to sell them more records and therefore line their pockets with more money, and also make no mistake in the reality that it will work.
But there is no escaping the reality in Power Up's quality, because there simply is none. There is no identifiable moment across the forty minutes of music, as every single song is unquestionably identical. Every lyric, every sung note, every guitar riff, every drum kick is a catchy and repetitive and truly indistinguishable format. I don't want to claim that it's tiresome because that would imply that listening to Power Up requires even a shred of energy; once it starts your brain goes on autopilot.
But this should not surprise any listeners, ultimately. AC/DC don't make an album and then tell you how different it is going to be, and there has to be transparency that it is nothing but a cash grab. There is no artistic statement, no musical revolution, only repetition for the sake of worming into the minds of those they have been wiggling around in for decades.
Credit is due for only a few points. The album does obviously maintain a level of consistency and clearly has a strong flow because it all sounds the same. No, there is no variation across the record, but at least the songs compile together logically. Additionally, even if the chords and vocals are one-dimensional, they at least have high production value given the immense amount of money dumped into making the album sound clean. If you're looking for clarity in the notes, you'll at least find that here.
You should still do yourself a favor and just listen to those songs that the radio stations have convinced you are somehow different from the others. Soak in the baseless nostalgia and move on with your day.
Favorite track: N/A