‘Strange Days’, the latest album from The Struts, begins with the title-track. It features Robbie Williams on guest vocals. If no-one had told you it was Robbie Williams then you wouldn’t have guessed, which renders any criticism purely because it is indeed the cheeky chappie himself, redundant. It’s a nice, meandering choon that shepherds in a ten-track belter that the Yanks will lap-up. And if the involvement of Williams brings The Struts to a larger audience then that is only a good thing. Capisce?
Album number three from the Brits-doing-rather-well-over-there was born in quarantine, put together in the blink of an eye rather than wasting time binging on shit on Netflix. And you can tell. It’s fresh, vibrant and comes with a sense of urgency. After the title-track fades out, the glam arrives in the shape of ‘All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go)’. A revving motorcycle, drummer Gethin Davies counting the band in with his sticks, and power chords up the yazoo. It’s bubblegum power pop and bloody great fun, something to lift the listener out of COVID-fuelled doldrums, and let’s face it; we all could do with a little escapism at the moment. Kiss were/are great exponents of escapism, and The Struts pay their respects with a fantastic blast through the Kiss nugget ‘Do You Love Me’. So many compare Struts frontman Luke Spiller with Freddie Mercury, but there are very few comparisons with Paul Stanley. Which is puzzling considering Spiller has that Starchild showmanship down to a tee.
As touched on before, this is a fun record, something to put a smile back on folks’ faces even if it’s only for 30 minutes. The Def Leppard pair of Joe Elliott and Phil Collen get in on the act on the riotous ‘I Hate How Much I Want You’ which begins with a voice-call between Spiller and Elliott where Spiller enlists the “King of the Leppard’s”. It comes blasting in with a killer power chord, a jaunty opening verse, and then a 10-inch sized platform boot chorus. Glam Rock is alive and kicking in 2020, the only thing to do is turn that volume dial skywards!
From Def Leppard to Rage Against The Machine in a blink of an eye: how many bands can do that?! The Struts certainly can. After The Lepps fade out, Tom Morello comes in with his trademark blistering riffs on ‘Wild Child’, easily The Struts’ heaviest track to date. The guests keep coming, and Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes pops up on the hook-laden ‘Another Hit of Showmanship’. Bouncy and bright, it’s a perfect example of the growth within The Struts. Robbie Williams, Def Leppard, Rage Against The Machine, and The Strokes; just goes to show you what can happen if you the balls to ask. It’s not all about the collaborations though; with its Stones-ey laid-back vibe ‘Burn It Down’ is one of the standout moments on an album of many. The gentle pacing is key, with the piano playing a crucial role. The subtle guitar tones from Adam Slack play back-up to the piano, but they work really well in bringing an organic feel to the track. With a hint of The Sweet here and there, ‘Can’t Sleep’ is another highlight.
File under “good things to have come from lockdown”
Stream and download the album now here: https://smarturl.it/StrangeDaysAlbum
Review – Dave
Photo credit – Beth Saravo