We truly are living some “Strange Days” right now, so The Struts‘ third output feels like one of the most appropriate albums we’ve heard all year. They used this pandemic to put together an extremely current, and yet almost tastelessly retro, record in just ten days during lockdown, with the help of a few unexpected guests.
Kicking off with the title track featuring Robbie Williams, Strange Days is an anthemic highlight. With twinkly synths and a warm, slow rhythm accompanied by melancholy minor falls, it’s the perfect theme song to the rest of the album and the one you want to sing along to most.
After that though, they waste no time in turning up the heat with the insanely infectious All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go). That motorcycle chugging at the beginning is cheesy AF but the timeless nature of this party staple is everything that we want from a Struts song.
Speaking of cheesy intros, I Hate How Much I Want You featuring Phil Collen and Joe Elliott of Def Leppard opens with an awkward phone conversation between Struts frontman Luke Spiller and Joe that just feels weird and superfluous. But it’s also got to be the catchiest song on the record so they’re totally forgiven.
Where The Struts really start to show their talent is in the handful of bluesy numbers such as the piano-backed Burn It Down with its Southern rock flavour and the slightly darker Wild Child featuring Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. Both solid album highlights.
Strange Days is not without its filler tracks, of course, and it’s quite unfortunate that the most forgettable track on the record is also the longest. Cool isn’t a game changer in any way, but even then you’re still unlikely to skip. Can’t Sleep is pretty predictable at this point, but that jangly guitar solo really makes us lament the lack of guitar solos in so many rock songs these days.
Do You Love Me is a pretty fantastic Kiss cover which feels even more glam-rock than the original and loses absolutely none of the swagger, while Another Hit Of Showmanship featuring Albert Hammon Jr. of The Strokes even has a little Britpop vibe about it which is nothing to complain about.
I still haven’t decided if The Struts are just modern dad rock or pure laidback rock ‘n’ roll, but one thing’s for sure – they know how to write a hook! The album on a whole remains cohesive and thoughtfully put together, from the thematic opener to the smooth and seductive closer Am I Talking To The Champagne (Or Talking To You). The huge choruses, unwavering charisma and strange unison of nostalgic 70s rock and 2020 themes makes for a distinguished output from The Struts, even if they’re never the most lyrically inventive.