The 2010s were a great time for indie bands to flourish. Acts like The Neighbourhood and Bleachers were able to create fun songs that are catchy and creative. While those acts are still making great music, bands like The Struts have fallen into a rut. Based in the U.K, The Struts are a rock band whose influences range from Def Leppard to the Rolling Stones. This seems fitting considering their latest record “Strange Days” belongs in the bargain bin of an ‘80s Radioshack.
Singer Luke Spiller sounds whiney and desperate throughout the record. His vocals are the worst on the song “Burn It Down” where he comes off as a narcissistic creep.
“I’m not even six feet / But I’m the man you won’t forget / I’m the one and only virus / That you’ll love when you get” has to be the creepiest line i’ve heard this year. Spiller is not a convincing lover on this album and what is even less convincing are his singing chops.
The album feels most lost when The Struts decide to feature Joe Elliott and Phil Collen on the song “I Hate How Much I Want You.” The features from Elliott and Collen are fine and sound like a b-side Def Leppard song, but why would the next track “Wild Child” have a Tom Morello feature on it? This is no disrespect to Morello, whose guitar work saves that song from being a dumpster fire, but it feels like The Struts had no plan for who they wanted featured on the album. Clashing styles for features is not a good look for any album, particularly one with sloppy songwriting.
One bright spot on “Strange Days” is the song “All Dressed Up (With Nowhere to Go).” The track feels like an ‘80s Bruce Springsteen song about love during a lockdown, which is fitting given the current climate. Guitarist Adam Slack has some great riffs throughout the song and proves that he has a future either forming his own band or going solo. Spiller’s vocals are screechy at times, but they don’t dominate the song.
What makes a band successful is how they are able to innovate their sound in a particular moment in time. Nirvana shook up the rock world in the ‘90s when they popularized grunge on their record “Nevermind.” Radiohead shattered expectations when they stripped rock down to its bones with their 2000 album “Kid A.” The Struts not only failed to innovate, but they also regressed their sound.
When the band released their 2016 song “Could Have Been Me,” it was a great mix of ‘80s ballad rock with modern drumming. Four years later and The Struts are more focused on sounding ‘80s than they are sounding modern. By strictly focusing on the past for an entire album, The Struts will never reach the heights of their contemporaries because they will be busy chasing the success of their idols.
It’s nice to hear one or two songs that sound like they’re from generations prior, but when that is all The Struts have to offer, they will be sitting in the dust while younger and more talented artists will be setting the trends for the next generation.