Strange are a high octane mix of drums 'n' bass aggression, menacing keyboards, quixotic psychedelic lead guitar and a bit of northern sophistication in the shape of vocalist Vicky.
The first thing that occurs to one listening to this band is that this could be the dark spiky pop that emanated from the UK Ska scene of 78-79. The tunes have that catchy quality - and this is certainly no conventional guitar garage combo. But the clinically efficient rythm section, and the swirling keyboards have the unmistakeable air of The Stranglers around the time of their second album. (I must declare an interest at this point, having been a fan of said band for 18 years.) The bassist is particularly good, and underpins the sound as did JJ Burnel in the Stranglers and Peter Hook in Joy Division, then New Order. The keyboards complement the rythm section well and the drums are spot on.
A fascinating mixture indeed. Vicky is no Hugh Cornwell and she has none of the brooding menace that is being generated by the rest of the band. She appears to be remarkably well-adjusted considering she's a member of a rock and roll band. She has no need of a gimmicky stage neurosis of course, since she is a talented singer (which sets her aside from most rock vocalists). Although the sound quality is no great shakes this much is clear. Blonde and pretty, but somehow fairly down-to-earth, she comes across low-key and certainly not overly dramatic, she makes an odd contrast to the big fierce-looking bassist who is the centre of gravity in this band. Gary the guitarist strikes Townshendish poses on stage-right. Strange haven't worked at an overall 'look', as do most. However in these post-style times, any 'look' is a bit of a joke anyway.
The final number is at times reminiscent of "Lucifer Sam" of Barrett-era Floyd fame and Gary shows off some mighty fine frazzled guitar a la the great Syd, finally winning the battle with the sound system in the process.
Comparison with other female-fronted bands doesn't hold up. Vicky is the singer but she doesn't reduce the rest to anonymous sidemen - the individual parts add up to the sum of the entertainment on offer in this case. Strange are a hybrid - but hybrids are always the most interesting bands to follow.
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