On “Galaxies,” Aaron Fink’s third solo album after his tenure in the wildly popular alternative metal band Breaking Benjamin came to an end, the guitarist, singer and songwriter offers a deeply personal, thematically cohesive and musically sophisticated effort.

Following the opener, “Serpentine,” a dark, bluesy, mood-setting instrumental, the rocking “Lovelight,” built on a repetitive rhythm guitar riff that’s locked in with bass and drums, recalls the slightly psychedelic work of Oasis in its heyday. “Left It Alone,” the lead single, is up next and is one of the record’s best moments; Fink sings about being tempted by a woman and admits his seduction was a mistake over a guitar riff reminiscent of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” You might call “Left It Alone” a hard-rock take on New Wave.

“Beautiful Creature” rides a slinky guitar line and might remind some listeners of Stone Temple Pilots’ trippier work, and the lyrical theme of “Left It Alone” is still at play, as it is on “The World Has Other Plans,” with its metaphor of fruit hanging on the vine. The latter track, however, follows a different musical direction, as a pretty piano introduction leads to a ballad that has a delicate texture but still rocks.

“Skies Above” briefly veers away from the straight-ahead rock of the earlier songs in favor of a Celtic vibe with acoustic guitar and hand claps. A tasteful electric guitar solo, lush choruses and lyrics about a wanderer searching for his place in the world make it one of the more unique and enjoyable selections here.

The last third of the album dials up the rock again, starting with the title track, an expansive song with some truly heavy, melodic guitar work and a perfectly placed solo. “Echoes” is a wistful song, and “Long Live The King” is no-frills, dirty riff rock.

Fink closes “Galaxies” with the pleading “Lady Peace,” sharing that he’s been “swept out to sea by a river I thought I could swim.” Soulful organ and harmony vocals add to the atmosphere. It’s a poignant ending, but let it play out for a lighter moment with Fink’s dog, Lola, barking along to his drumming in the hidden track.

Fink came of age when albums still mattered — every song, not just the singles or the videos. Working under that premise, he’s created a collection of songs that hang together nicely and deserve to be heard in order. He’s not the next Freddie Mercury when it comes to vocals, but that’s not the point: His voice is the right vehicle for these songs and the emotions he’s conveying, and it works well in the context of the music. If you’re a fan of rock music that is familiar and unique at the same time, “Galaxies” would be a welcomed addition to your collection.

Rating: 76/81

Aaron Fink and The Fury will host a “Galaxies” album-release party on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the River Street Jazz Café (667 N. River St., Plains, PA)  

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