Album Review: The Struts – Strange Days
‘Oh, these are strange days, in many strange ways,’ sings The Struts’ vocalist Luke Spiller on the opening title-track to the Derby quartet’s third LP. The fact that pop supremo Robbie Williams is crooning along beside him, with his band – guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliot, and drummer Gethin Davies – deploying the kind of airy stadium-rock that characterises Coldplay at their most tolerable, should be taken as confirmation that those Strange Days aren’t just referring to 2020’s COVID-enforced stasis. For sure, this is the sound of one of Britain’s most promising guitar bands leaving grubby backrooms behind and crossing the rock Rubicon to stake their claim as our next global superstars.
That’s not to say they’re forgetting the freewheeling sound that got them this far. All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go) is the sort of timelessly spring-loaded – and sax-enhanced – nugget that says Friday night’s alright for doing anything you damn well please. Do You Love Me is a no-frills air-punching anthem that delivers exactly the cheap endorphin-spike you’d expect. Cool finds them cutting loose over a bluesy, breathy six-and-a-half minutes. Burn It Down serves up the sort of country-fried Southern rock that guarantees their already-hefty Transatlantic appeal, like some Long Eaton Lynyrd Skynyrd.
A host of rock legends crop up to stamp their approval. After a slightly cringy answerphone intro, Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen and vocalist Joe Elliot supercharge surging love-song I Hate How Much I Want You. Rage Against The Machine six-stringer Tom Morello elevates the rough-hewn Wild Child with the kind of carefree fretboard-bashing virtuosity we’ve not seen since Audioslave. When The Strokes guitarist (and esteemed solo songwriter) Albert Hammond Jr. then arrives on the surprisingly reflective indie-rocker Another Hit Of Showmanship, it barely raises an eyebrow.
Crucially, though, this remains The Struts’ show. In Luke they have a frontman with the fantasy-bridging blend of charisma, swagger and mainstream rock dexterity to feel like a real-life Aldous Snow. And he’s only getting better with age. By the time he, ahem, struts through the jangling Can’t Sleep and on into smouldering, after-hours-appropriate closer Am I Talking To The Champagne (Or Talking To You), even the staunchest cynics will have been dragged into his irresistible alternate reality of soft-focus sex and high-sheen cool. An exuberant escape from these Strange Days, indeed…
Strange Days is out now via Polydor
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