Straight off the bat, Straylings bring only good things to a listener’s life. Personally, their new album has inspired an absolute binge on Mazzy Star and all things Hope Sandoval, and if there’s one thing I love about finding new music, it’s that moment that you re-discover old music because of it. If that was the only thing worthy of merit in Straylings debut LP, Entertainment on Foreign Ground, then it’d be a great release. Luckily enough for Dana Zeera and Oliver Drake, this record has more than enough substance to stand alone and see it pegged as one of the best underground releases of 2012 so far.
Opener ‘Carver’s Kicks’ stomps through your preconceptions in dusty leather, raw yet elegant, while the opening hooks of ‘Sleep Shapes’ are reminiscent of a scuzzier Elliott Smith. Zeera’s vocals are wonderfully and unsettlingly detached from Drake’s moody guitar meanderings, inviting an obvious comparison to Karen O in their reverb-drenched growls. Straylings play to their strengths throughout the album, with the rolling piano of ‘The Spoils’ evoking a cinematic bar-brawl and the playfulness of ‘The Unravelling of Mr Ed’, while ‘To Lay Down Roots’ is a chilling americana closer.
There’s an argument that a slightly firmer hand might have chopped the running time of the record down to its benefit, but this is a great collection of tracks that are richly distinctive, repeatedly wide-eyed and unique, and refreshingly confident.
From Joe Abbitt.