The first word that comes to mind when listening to The Struts’ new album “Strange Days” is unexpected. The record serves as a testament to what the glitter rock band has been up to in lockdown, and the result? An entire ten-song, 43-minute set that explores most corners of rock and roll.
While the album is the least cohesive when it comes to the entire sound to come from the group thus far, fans are still left blown away by what was accomplished over the past few months.
What stands out the most is the genre-bending the band did throughout this piece. They have several guests on the album, from Robbie Williams (from the pop group Take That) to Phil Collen and Joe Elliot (both from the rock band Def Leppard). The Struts are one of the only bands that could attain this range of appearances and pull it off so seamlessly.
Of the first tracks debuted off the album before its release, most were among the pop-rock strain. “Another Hit of Showmanship” was the first taste fans received and it hit right at the fun, glittery vibe the fan is known for. The opening sounds similar to the Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love” but the song then takes a sharp turn, relying heavily on the guitar playing of Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes and, lead singer, Luke Spiller’s effortless vocals.
Spiller’s voice was the highlight of the title track “Strange Days,” as well, overpowering Williams’ addition. The song sets the tone for the entire album as it dives into the unprecedented times the world is at given the Covid-19 pandemic. While it is a good lead into the theme of the whole set, the song itself falls flat in my opinion.
In both “Strange Days” and “Another Hit of Showmanship,” I am waiting to hear Spiller belt it out like he is known to do. Given his impressive vocal range, the fact that both songs lacked that climactic moment, disappointed me. While both tracks are good and can get stuck in your heads for hours, they leave the listener wanting more.
The songs that delivered the most were “Wild Child” and “Can’t Sleep.” “Wild Child” taps into rock music at its core, as it just fills the listener with feelings of badassery with the edgy electric guitar and raw, grungy vocals. It feels much more stripped away than the other tracks as it exudes confidence and has an unfiltered “take it or leave it” mentality.
These same feelings are present in “Can’t Sleep,” as the song blends classic and modern rock in a way I never knew was necessary. The opening beats tap into rockstar Jet’s sound in their hit “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” but swiftly break into a traditional 80’s hairband rock style when the chorus hits. The band delicately transitions between the two forms for the remainder of the track.
In both “Wild Child” and “Can’t Sleep” the Spiller’s pipes are better utilized to satisfy a fuller rock sound and will be the most thrilling to see live once in-person concerts come back.
Most tracks on the album are experimental for The Struts, as they played around with new genres. However, the band did stick to their glitter rock roots in a couple of the tracks. The last single released from the album before its entire debut was “I Hate How Much I Want You” and you can just feel the exuberance and classic Struts’ showmanship within the piece.
This was also prevalent in the song “All Dressed Up (With Nowhere to Go),” which, as the second song on the album, asserts the fact that the boys have not strayed from their roots while also cementing the theme that this was a project completed during the quarantine.
The Struts had another junior album in the works before “Strange Days” was made. That album took the back burner during lockdown so this compilation of genre-bending works could materialize. While the record is vastly different than what the band has produced in the past, the merit and quality are still strong.
It is noble that the band took this unprecedented time to explore their bounds creatively and while some of the songs are taking me longer to like than others, I respect them for trying out new sounds. They proved to their fans that they can and still are the band that many have grown to love and are now branching out stylistically due to their increasing fame.
Overall, “Strange Days” is a strong follow up to “Young and Dangerous” and should leave fans satisfied until the release of their initial third record. The diversity in tracks is unparalleled and proves to the world that The Struts can do it all and rock and roll isn’t dead, and as long as this band is around, won’t ever be.