Polka dot dresses swirl through the mind in tail finned gas swilling automobiles. Iced beers drip in sunshine, drive in movie screens show black and white flicks over slicked back black hair and blonde lipstick curls. This is cherry coke sweet. Polished like high chrome in saccharine shades.
These images fix like a pinpoint in time. It’s a faithful and playful 1950s revival set away from the flick knives and drag strips.
Brand New Day is the 5 track EP from the Strays that follows 2017’s ‘Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am.’ A sweet rumble of bass hooks drives through each track, punctuated by crystal clear drums, new twist guitar grit and a vocal that drives a slick sass. ‘Scratch My Back’, the lead track sets the pace and the tone, homage and influence laid bare and aching. It’s designed to swing and it does, calls and responses in chorus and verses, you can see fingers running down that walking bass.
‘Too Bad’ brings some guttural growl to the sass, its the closest we get to Fujiyama Mamma rasp and it’s a strength wisely placed up and centre. Guitars get cleaner and bring themselves forwards, welcome wisps of trumpet add new scents and flavours. ‘Go Go Boy’ follows as the neatest and cleanest instruction to move, intent is to get your limbs twitching.
‘Black Swan’ and ‘The River’ round off the EP with the two most ear pleasing tracks on here. The first leans closer towards Jim Jones Revue with purpose and stomp in it’s stride. The guitar dirt refined to a crisp set of punches, toms rolling around with a new set of zest and vocals more confident in their yells, growls and pops. She sounds in command with the band her best plaything.
‘The River’ gets rural, a soundtrack to flings in the hay in the heat, seduction and warning in sultry cat calls. Those well laid foundations of greased rock and roll are mixed in with signs of new life; there’s new southern soul in the voice, new country twang in the strings, that bass guitar sweats out sprint. It’s this departure that sets it apart and the first time the production truly suits the EP. Rock and roll should be dirty and while all these songs are, the wrapping all sits just a little too tight for these things to swing like they should.
But don’t let that reflect on the band, production’s a personal taste. And that last EP and live videos show off the raucous and rattle and rasp. Dirty like rock and roll should be.