As the world, whilst strolling along the path to self-destruction, becomes more and more fuelled by chaos, dissonance and bigotry, so rises up dissenting voices and alternative fractions in all walks of life. UK hailing outfit Mr. Strange is one such proposition, a band which vaunts the alternative and freak show of life with a sound just as bold, brazen, and bare-faced celebratory and in full and irresistible chorus within new album WTF.
A 3-piece electro-rock outfit from the Isle of Wight, Mr. Strange began in 2006, a creative offshoot to the criminally unrecognised but glorious cult circus/steampunk-rock band, The Shanklin Freak Show which was led by vocalist/songwriter Mr. (Saul) Strange. With a handful of studio albums under the belt bookending TSFS, Mr. Strange became a rousing live proposition out of the former’s demise. We find ourselves among a vast flock already hooked and compelled by the creative parade escaping the talents of all members over the years so as a best of album WTF was only going to have the body bouncing and spirit racing. Featuring 20 “fan favourites and live staples” including many updated and revamped, the album is a summing up of past glories and the doorway to a trepid new adventure; quite simply the perfect introduction and invitation to the multi-styled electro rock escapades of Saul Strange, bassist/guitarist Ant Strange, and live drummer Damian Strange.
For existing fans of the band there will be a strong tinge of sadness listening to WTF as so many of its tracks feature the work of Gary ‘Stench’ Mason, an accomplished and creatively potent guitarist as well as a true gentleman and friend sadly no longer with us. The album is as much a legacy and celebration of his craft as the band’s voracious sound and Saul’s manipulatively skilled songwriting and it sets out a massive lure from the off with Wonderful World of Weird. It is a truly magnetic summoning, getting under the skin from its initial hum before leading the body on a rousing swing thereon in as it marches into the hectic imagination and prowl of the band’s kaleidoscopic musical.
It’s quirky flirtation and bidding is matched by that of the following Carousel, a track bridging the antics of The Shanklin Freak Show and Mr. Strange with nagging boisterousness. Its dark circus is the obverse shade to the mischievous tone of its predecessor, a like-minded but heavier, caliginous counter-part just as devious in its lure of body and vocal chords before the same kind of full captivation is repeated through the electro sizzle of Disco Bitch.
As Brain Dead Boogie greedily infests limbs with its skilfully frantic rock ‘n’ roll and Clockwork Man lays its own haunting bait and grip on ears and imagination, it is already hard to imagine many resisting the album’s devilish cure; even more so as the latter’s sinister metronomic crawl shares a subservient body with the shameless declaration and electro dance of I Like Girls…, it yet another inescapable musical voluptuary.
Twisted Family brings the freaks all together in its Tartarean gathering next, again sharing a celebration of the aberrance in man swiftly prowled by the predacious Lizard Man 3.0 which immediately sets about weeding out the wonder rich anomalous from the corrupted inflexible. Both tracks are bred in the circus rock of TSFS but evolved to greater calls with the ever exploratory prowess of the Mr. Strange sound, the second especially blossoming into a fresh thrilling beast.
From album to album Mr. Strange has explored individual directions and distinct flavours, each unique to another but as proven across WTF any song sit easily amongst each other no matter their breeding as shown by the seamless way the disco pop of Addiction nestles against the ravening exploits of the previous pair and the surf ‘n’ roll of the exceptional Psycho Surfing a Go-Go,. One of our all-time Strange anthems, the track is pure addiction, a compulsive stomp woven on the purest essences of rock ‘n roll and all its deviancies.
In turn the rapaciously creeping psychotic saunter of Anti-Light lends its tenebrific lures to the coquettish shadows and reflection of the band’s cover of the Pet Shop Boy’s It’s A Sin which then lies comfortably against the untamed serenade of Music Box. All three feed the diversity and untypical prowess of the release, the middle track, which its creators never quite had us hooked with, finding a whole new level of persuasion.
Deviant Ritual is another song which became a major infestation within the Electric Pornography album and stands a major incitement within WTF, its mutant electro waltz pure slavery not too distantly matched through the iniquitous ramble of Sodom Nights featuring the vocal charms of Bridget Gray and immediately after courtesy of the eerily atmospheric, Stygian beauty clad Playground Twist, this another essential offering from the Mr. Strange songbook. It is one of four songs which are exclusive to the download version of the album and as much as a physical copy is forcibly recommended you do not want to miss out of any of the quartet either.
Through the body using swing of Exile and the similar electronic exploitation uncaged by Villain, participation and pleasure drips lust and even more profusely for the album’s previously unreleased track, an insatiably rousing merger of Dead Or Alive’s Spin Me Round and the band’s own just as tenaciously vampy Do It Like Pete Burns.
The glorious celebration of Mr. Strange concludes with the duskily wistful and radiantly mesmeric There’s Consequences, a final slice of instinctive temptation. WTF provides all the evidence needed to declare songwriter and band one of the truly fresh and exciting trespasses on the senses and imagination around. It does breed slight disappointment as other tracks like the truly wonderful Jonathan and the seriously anthemic Fire were not included but that is just down to personal favourites of which we will all have plenty we could easily add to all the deserving proposals within WTF.
There are some bands which are almost guaranteed to enthral and recruit just given the chance, Mr. Strange is one and here to provide the perfect doorway to their unique spectacle of unquenchable goodness is WTF, you just have to enter through its threshold.
WTF is available now across most stores. For more info and Mr. Strange check out…
Pete RingMaster 02/04/2019
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