The self-titled EP from US electro pop band Strange Names is best described as an exploding star of warm mesmeric radiance and rich melodic hues falling upon the senses with varied flavoursome and refreshing warmth. It shows with ease why the duo of New York born Liam Benzvi (vocals, percussion, keyboards)and Minneapolis hailing Francis Jiminez (vocals, guitar, keyboards) has created such a buzz around themselves back home and now the UK release of their debut EP should act as a magnet for the imagination and passions of plenty more eager appetites this side of the blue too.
The two musicians met whilst at the University of Minnesota in 2010 and soon were collaborating with live performances following in2012, the band growing to a quartet live with the addition of bassist Andre Borka and drummer Fletcher Aleckson, who also play on the EP. It’s and a single’s successful Stateside release to strong acclaim via White Iris Records followed Strange Names being named as the Twin Cities Best New Band of last year. Live the band has also garnered strong reactions including shows with the likes of Yeasayer, Mac DeMarco, and The Walkmen. With the pair working on their debut album right now, the EP gets its timely unveiling on this side of the pond through Minor Times Records September 16th to equal response.
Potential Wife starts things off with electronic starlets of sound expelling their sonic beauty in the sky of the song before beats rupture their elegance and the track is led by a delicious bass croon bursts into a contagious blaze of jangly guitars and melodic dance. With the bass adding extra funk to proceedings the sound sits somewhere between Talking Heads and The Tom Tom Club before evolving into even juicier affair as the great dual flames of harmonies and mesmeric vocals from Benzvi and Jimenez kiss and caress the ear. It is an absorbing start to the release with elements of eighties new wave and modern electro brewing further enticing whispers within the elegantly grooved waltz.
Strange Revelation continues the impressive start and instantly shows the variation and diversity ripe within the songwriting and its sound, a haunting post punk breath wrapping every note and lyrical coaxing whilst a melodic breeze stokes up further irresistible heat. The bass and excellent chilled guitar taunts have a Joy Division cold beauty whilst the contrasting warm melodies and vocal exploits pull thoughts of China Crisis into play. It is a mesmeric weave of masterful and evocative craft which confirms the potency and temptation of band and release.
Luxury Child finds seeds back in the pop well of enterprise though the throaty pulsating dark tones brings welcome shadows to contrast the excellent Haircut 100 like guitar stroking and the ever impressive and smouldering warm vocals. Simultaneously tender and vibrantly energetic the song is an enthralling venture soon matched by final song Young. The closing track is a deep wash of potently hued electronic incandescence and slightly raw but invigorating sonic colour which continues the immense bewitchment and creative heights of the EP. It does not quite match the success of the previous songs but is arguably the most intense and imaginative of the four, and the most telling of the strength and expanse of the band’s songwriting.
Strange Names is poised to seduce the UK and Europe just like it has its homeland, their first EP an undeniable persuasion of that assumption and future promise, the first step towards many exciting horizons for them and us.
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