The Strange Boys ‘Be Brave’ – Review

6 Mar

There seems to have been a little rebirth in Garage rock this year. The Soft Pack finally released their debut last month and this month see’s the return of The Archie Bronson Outfit, Black Keys and The Strange Boys.  The Latter are on Rough Trade Records and released their first album a couple of years ago.  Whilst I’d heard of them, I hadn’t heard them but that changed once I saw the brilliant album art for record number two ‘Be Brave’. The psychedelic throwback band shot is just the kind of thing that I like so I decided to listen to what was in the sleeve.

It instantly strikes you that the music is just as retro and of kilter as the album art. The ramshackle garage sound is a throwback to the famous nuggets compilation, just enough hint of weirdness alongside some old school rock n roll. The title track, and first single, is the best thing on here and showcases just what this band are great at. From the group chants, the Rickenbacker strumming and the excellent saxaphone solo at the end, this is a great single.

I don’t know how the album was recorded but it sounds live and it sounds analogue. The drums are amazing, just enough depth and echo, and the organ flourishes are perfectly implemented, such as on ‘Friday in Paris’. This is definitely a band who know their stuff and know how they want to sound.

When they really rock out The Strange Boys sound electric but when they slow it down as they do too often towards the end, they lose a bit of steam. One acoustic interlude never goes amis on an album like this (something The Soft Pack could learn) but the final third of ‘Be Brave’ is riddled with drunken confessional type songs and the album looses momentum as a result. There is humour to the lyrics as well but that often gets lost in translation. The singer of the band has a slurry Bob Dylan type of voice that suits the type of music they play but makes the words hard to decipher. It isn’t the strongest voice in the world either and every now and then it gets annoying, as on ‘Da Da’.

‘Be Brave’ is a nice album to hear in 2010. It demonstrates just how much fun pure rock n roll can still be when done right. It’s very refreshing to have a band who don’t insist on throwing the Kitchen sink in but rather concentrate on getting the simple stuff right. That seemed to go out of  fashion a couple of years ago but The Strange Boys prove that less can be more.



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