The Struts – Strange Days (Album Review)

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The Struts - Strange Days album coverI think bands put themselves into a tough spot when they scrap a full album and release a new one. It doesn’t happen often, but fans know there’s a whole body of work they haven’t heard. And, we tend to compare what does get released with what we haven’t heard. That’s what happened with The Struts and Strange Days
 
Early in 2020, lead singer, Luke Spiller, said they were working on a new album. Fast forward to October and gone is that album and out came Strange Days which they recorded in ten days. What we got is a more stripped-down album than we experienced with their first two albums. 
 
Spiller explained that they didn’t spend four or five days on one song like they usually do. The change in recording puts a bigger spotlight on guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies. On the first two albums, the heavy production tends to overshadow them often. 
 
While I’m a huge fan of Everybody Wants and Young & Dangerous, my opinion (and not a criticism) is that they need to find their own sound. They were very Queen-heavy. Don’t get me wrong. They pulled it off well, but I’d like a bit more of The Struts to come through. With Strange Days, there’s a wider range of styles with their songs. Although, there is a stretch of songs that have a heavy Rolling Stones vibe at various points in their career: “Cool” (which Spiller even compares the end jam to “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”), “Burn It Down” (Exile on Main Street), and “Am I Talking to the Champagne (or Talking to You)” (Disco-era Stones). It may not be a coincidence, but these are the strongest songs on the album. So, they’re closer to being themselves, but still getting there.
 
The Struts also get a lot of help from some friends on this CD. Robbie Williams (“Strange Days”), Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Phil Collen (“I Hate How Much I Want You”), Tom Morello (“Wild Child”) and Albert Hammond, Jr. from The Strokes (“Another Hit of Showmanship”) make appearances. They all fit in well within the framework of the songs. They enhance the songs without overtaking them. Although the “conversation” between Spiller and Elliott that precedes “I Hate How Much I Want You” is unlistenable. It’s awkward. Spiller points out that it’s staged…thanks, but we figured that out own. I wish they would have cut that.
 
What doesn’t work on Strange Days? “Strange Days” is a good enough song, but it shouldn’t lead off the album. It’s too slow and never builds into anything exciting. Other song lowlights are their cover of Kiss’sDo You Love Me” and “Just Another Hit of Showmanship.” Spiller points out that they based “Do You Love Me” on the version by Girl, which isn’t all that different from the original. The Struts don’t bring anything new or Struts-ish to it. It’s a pretty straight lackluster remake. 
 
Overall, for a third album from the group, I want to like it more than I do. Third albums used to be when bands really break out (Aerosmith’s Toys In the Attic, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, Def Leppard’s Pyromania, etc.). I don’t think that happens here. Even Spiller said, “Admittedly, it probably doesn’t have a collection of the most well-crafted, massive songs. But it was a moment in time that was captured.” Back to my point from the beginning, it makes me wonder what was on the original album they had. There’s a chance we’ll hear those songs at some point. Until then, here’s to hoping they’ll be able to tour soon and we can see how these songs translate live.

 

Buy: Strange Days

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