April 25, 2011 (Detroit, MI) Written by Robert Sutton. Singer/songwriter Ladd Biro's Climb to the Top has the sound and feel of a greatest-hits album. That is no exaggeration. Nearly every track on the disc has an aura of familiarity to it, but not in the sense of the material being derivative. Rather, Biro has fitted each of these songs with stainless hooks so memorably catchy that they seem like chart smashes from another time.
This is the dire state of pop music: When a new record is released that reels in the ears with such glowing melodies, we are conditioned to interpret it as being from the past.
True, there is a retro aspect to Biro's style, one that marries the soaring harmonies of Neil Diamond with the unabashed romanticism of Barry Manilow. However, there is a reason why Diamond and Manilow have withstood the passage of time and countless trends, and it is the timelessness of their tunes. Biro's songs fit snugly into that category.
The opening cut, "Mars and Venus," opens with jazzy, joyful horns that fill the speakers with boisterous cheer. It's the kind of crowd-pleasing song that used to crackle on AM radio stations, before cynicism and salaciousness overtook the airwaves. Biro attaches a chorus on "Mars and Venus" so infectious it'll replay in the mind for hours.
Because of the blue-eyed soul in his vocals, Biro is often compared to Michael Bublé. However, unlike Bublé, Biro is quite multidimensional. "Puerto Vallarta" navigates in trop-rock waters with its Latin beat and funky riffs; one can imagine Jimmy Buffett wanting to join the party. The sizzling electric guitar in "Puerto Vallarta" is especially intoxicating.
When Biro does slow down the groove as on the piano ballads "Whatever Happened to Forever" and "You'll Be in My Heart," the results are particularly moving, Valentine's Day laments delivered with elegance and warmth.