The Living Strange - 'Gunk' Album Review


Tracklist:

1. NEW PET

2. STUMBLE

3. WHAT IT SEEMS

4. LOSING IT

5. SHADOW

6. SKYLINE

7. MANNEQUIN

8. IF YOU GO

9. POSITION

10. WAX MUSEUM

Sometimes love hits you straight in the face; you can be living your life, doing your thing, when you meet someone and suddenly find yourself head over heels, paralytically, stupidly and completely in love. Most of the time it doesn’t happen like that though, you carry on living your life, doing your thing, getting to know someone, then one day you realise that actually, this thing that’s been going on, is much more than a thing, this is love. It happens slowly, but then in an instant.

I’ve been listening to this record for a while now, looking for the words to write, but none were forthcoming. For quite some time, I was thinking that my review was going to say something cynical, along the lines that ‘Gunk’ is easy to admire, but difficult to love. Then, this evening (alcohol may have been consumed) I came to the dawning realisation that I needed to confront my feelings, and to admit, confess, and shout to the stars that I love it.

Brooklyn’s The Living Strange have produced a bit of an Alt-Rock gem, it’s perhaps a grower, but when you give it time, it’s really pretty amazing. The album opens with the chimerical ‘New Pet’ which feels, as the lyric would have it, “just like a dream” with a synth and vocal section at the start which put me in mind of some dystopian fairground. ‘Stumble’ is perhaps my favourite track on the album, it opens with a great fuzzy guitar riff, breaking down to a simple yet effective bass and drum accompaniment to the verse, before the guitar kicks in for a chorus with a soaring vocal melody which Muse’s Matt Bellamy would wish he had written. ‘Mannequin’ is another highlight, with a frankly mental proggy sounding guitar riff moving up and down pentatonic scales (I think, my music theory is a little rusty), it sounds questionable, but as with so much on this record it is infectiously intriguing.

There’s so much content on this album, depth upon depth of sound, and it’s a really mature sounding collection of songs for such a new band. We’ve seen the progression of Arctic Monkeys from a band who started singing about teenage dalliances with alcopops, to one who have developed their artistic talents, and whose music is much more interesting now (albeit perhaps a little less energetic). But The Living Strange have started on the top floor, they’re already producing amazingly interesting (and energetic) music, which leaves me wanting more.

In short? If you want a quick hit, before you move onto the next one, then this might not be for you. If you’re prepared to put the time in, and really savour your experience, then this could be The One.

Website - www.thelivingstrange.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/thelivingstrange/

Review - Jon Stokes

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