Derby’s pride The Struts released the Album Of The Year 2018 for this writer, fast forward to 2020, they’ve recorded their third full-length album over a period of 10 days during lockdown at an LA studio with guests Robbie Williams, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and more. How did it fare?
Written by: Dave T
ARTIST: The Struts
ALBUM: Strange Days
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Luke Spiller – vocals * Adam Slack – guitar * Jed Elliott – bass * Gethin Davies – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Strange Days * 02 All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go) * 03 Do You Love Me * 04 I Hate How Much I Want You (featuring Joe Elliott & Phil Collen) * 05 Wild Child (featuring Tom Morello) * 06 Cool * 07 Burn It Down * 08 Another Hit Of Showmanship (featuring Albert Hammond Jr.) * 09 Can’t Sleep * 10 Am I Talking To The Champagne (Or Talking To You)
With The Struts currently based in LA, the follow up to the fabulous ‘Young & Dangerous’ from 2018 was originally planned as a three or four-song EP to be recorded during ten days in the studio. Things went smoothly and quickly the band found themselves with enough songs to complete a full album. They stated on record that this is the album they had been dying to make and they felt like graduated from songwriting academy.
The Struts album reflects the feeling of being in the middle of a never before seen lockdown. While said feeling works for the likes of Stan Bush who subliminates it as a message of hope and confidence, this is the other way round.
The fun, feel-good element of Glam Rock is missing. I perceive a tired vibe instead. The band’s Rock component is reduced and polished. Production by Jon Levine (who had co-written songs for ‘Young & Dangerous’) is loud and bombastic as opposed to powerful or deep.
Opening song ‘Strange Days’ is a modern Pop ballad. No issues with it, but with the fact that it never reaches any height. Luke Spiller overshadows guest Robbie Williams and the latter painfully strains his vocal lines.
‘All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go)’ sounds like a Slade throwaway with lyrics addressing the lockdown. The cover version of Kiss‘s ‘Do You Love Me’ is only ok, and although loud as hell it lacks the genuine energy of the original.
Same comment about the noisy atmosphere goes for ‘I Hate How Much I Want You’ in which Spiller once again overperforms his guest, in this case a thin-sounding Joe Elliott. The chorus is good but performed so over the top it’s hard to swallow to these ears.
‘Wild Child’ benefits from Tom Morello‘s hot guitar riffs but ‘Cool’ comes off sounding as a Rolling Stones outtake with bits of the Jet sound in it that morphs into a jam with some of the most pedestrian, lazy pentatonic guitar licks you are likely to hear in this age.
The retro vibe continues with the bluesy piano ballad ‘Burn It Down’, which sounds straight from the Faces/Rod Stewart-fronted Jeff Beck Group mold, followed by the attempt at brit pop that is ‘Another Hit Of Showmanship’. Unfortunately, I hear more lost identity than diversity in all these songs.
‘Can’t Sleep’ is another try at a big chorus that falls short while ‘Am I Talking To The Champagne (Or Talking To You)’ is one more bluesy/jazzy/R&B/(you name it) jam which features a flaccid sax that closes the album.
I can picture this album as a tall, mirrored-shiny building that however looks cold while further inspection reveals its weak foundations. Without a doubt The Struts are a great band, I hope this is only a misstep explained by rushed efforts and lockdown-induced feelings or vibes.
I Hate How Much I Want You