Aptly named “Strange Days,” the third album by British glam-rock band The Struts, grants an escape from our strange reality with its classic-rock-inspired sound and unapologetically fun attitude.
Released Oct. 16, “Strange Days” marks a departure from The Struts’ flamboyant productions, giving way to an album dominated by guitar and bass rather than synthesized embellishments. This notion is supported by the album’s featured artists, ranging from Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and Joe Elliott to The Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.
Entering the music scene in 2016 with their debut album, “Everybody Wants,” The Struts’ first two albums were characterized by glittery anthems, flashy ensembles and unrelinquished starpower. This persona is best encapsulated in the song “Primadonna,” from their 2018 album “YOUNG&DANGEROUS,” where charismatic frontman Luke Spiller belts “Do you wanna be a primadonna like me tonight?”.
The title track and lead single, “Strange Days,” best sums up the current state of reality with the lyrics “Oh these are strange days / In many strange ways / Science fiction, I believe / Has become reality.” Initially backed by a lone piano, the track builds as powerful drums and guitar are layered to support Spiller and featured artist Robbie Williams’ unembellished anthem.
“All Dressed Up (With Nowhere to Go)” provides the first feature of a bluesy saxophone, adding a new element to the steady, kick-drum-backed beat. It playfully reimagines something known all too well — being locked down with nowhere to go. It’s a cheeky twist on a dreary subject, supplying listeners with a lively tune to the nights spent at home.
The third track, “Do You Love Me,” is a punchy inquisition about a lover’s true intentions. Backed by an anchoring drum beat, Spiller’s vocals stand out as he bears his soul to ask “You like all the concerts and the studios / And all the money I make, honey, that I make, but / Do you love me?”
“I Hate How Much I Want You” opens with a cheesy phone call between Spiller and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, wherein Spiller invites rockstar vocalist Elliott and guitarist Phil Collen to join in the fun. An in-your-face, guitar-forward melody is reminiscent of the classic rock era and pairs perfectly with the honest, belted vocals about being caught in the middle of love.
The classic rock theme continues with “Wild Child,” featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. A dark reflection on love and life, the amplified, guitar-driven sound matches the intensely intimate lyrics “I’d only be scared if I never lived / I’m your wild child.”
“Cool” puts a pep in your step with its rhythmic baseline and catchy vocals. The breakup ballad gives a taste of powerful payback in the game of love with the lyrics “You always play the way / To bring my blood to boil / Now I’m over it, couldn’t give a s--- / It’s your own night to spoil.”
Further establishing The Struts’ divulgence from synthetic additions, “Can’t Sleep” reintroduces us to grooving guitar solos and a booming bassline. It shows the flipside to relationship woes with its longing yet lively calls for the neighbor’s affection.
As the album comes to a close, two sensual songs stand out. Track 7, “Burn It Down,” and Track 10, “Am I Talking to the Champagne (Or Talking to You),” give an intimate, bluesy peek into the everlasting concept of love, sex and rock-and-roll. That’s all I’ll say about that.
I won’t lie, I’ve been a fan of The Struts’ since I was 15. While their live shows are extravagant productions, this album is better suited for how everyone is listening nowadays — at home. Even so, their intermixing of flashy fun and unapologetically honesty is genuinely fun to listen to and will be my car ride staple to escape the days that feel strange.