A lot of bands that opt for the “retro” route, and I’m not even too sure how appropriate such a tag is for a band like Strangely Alright anyway, tend to get stuck in the past. Now that might seem like a contradiction but to me merely plundering past glories and repackaging what has gone before is a lazy option.
What I have always loved about Strangely Alright is that whilst they obviously have a deep love for 60’s sonic vibes and 70’s cool, nostalgic pop sounds, psychedelic grooves and paisley patterned prose, they still strike me as having all ten of their feet firmly on the modern ground. It’s a case of appreciating the past whilst making music in the present…that way leads to a bright future, perhaps one made up of Day-Glo colours and polka dot prints!
Life In 3 is their latest offering, and what a glorious beast it is too. Slow, languid and lovely, drifting on retro sonic winds but floating over a contemporary soundscape. Yes, it is full of lush harmonies and a slow, sensual Summer of Love pop vibe, shimmering psychedelic guitars and Doorsian poeticism, trippy loucheness and a warm embrace, but you can see it appealing to the modern mass market too. Perhaps because the discerning, modern listener has been starved of such great sounds and adventurous composition for so long, perhaps because it is a great song no matter what era you find yourself in. I suspect both to be true.
There is something wonderfully hypnotic in its execution too. Guitars coil and spiral rather than charge and clash (take note rockers of the here-and-now, less is more, and all that), the backbeat and bass are content to pulse and pace, sparingly, and the vocal work is at turns cinematic and all-encompassing and also emotive and direct.
Maybe the sixties never ended. Maybe this is the sound of that decade just continuing to do its thing. Maybe Strangely Alright live in a house out of time and place shared with the members of Redd Kross and Jellyfish! Maybe it is just that Strangely Alright are better than most at stretching sonic time out and blending nostalgia with modernity, the past with the present, the what was with the what if? Whatever it is they do, I’m just glad that they keep doing it! (And doing it so much better than the competition)