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Black Soul Strangers

Animate Squeek Records
Intrigued by the winsome but starkly confident single release ‘ The Haunting’, we received this full album release with interest. An Irish four-piece but without U2/The Script influences, BSS don’t seem hellbent on creating an image, though there is a great buzz around them – rather they are delivering a set of songs here.

A stately acoustic start to opener ‘Panic Sets Direction’ gives way to an electric driven pelt with instrumentation in and out as the song progresses. And it’s catchy, with a vague echo of The Undertones but – for me – less mannered singing.

Like The Parlotones, they have a very able drummer in Brendan O’Mahoney so a dynamic edge is ever present enabling main songsmith Barry Gorey a range others might envy for his writing. Film people have picked up on the more atmospheric offerings, always a clue that a band has more than just danceability or a saleable look.

‘Lies’ is a little too close to the Jam on pacing for me but they are going here for that stabbing feel, so far enough. Subtle background vocal work impresses and the bridge rolls nicely with the drums of top of it all. This is probably the best ‘grower’ on the set, it must be said. Fourth cut ‘Leave’ cries out for a female co-lead vocal and its mixture of stridency and tension works a treat, a future single I suggest and even better if strings could be added. Of other tracks ‘Tristia’ is quite alluring, quasi-martial drumming et al and neat production touches. ‘Witchita’ sounds truly like  band that’s already famous with that chattering Cars-speeded-up guitar drilling away and again drumming that holds it all together plus the best bassline on the record. Curiously, closer ‘Harp sounds as though it should be sung by Neil Young !

On this showing a quality act with wide appeal given airplay. Word of mouth will get them there even if radio doesn’t, if they can sound like this in a live setting

Pete Sargeant

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