An energetic duo comprised of London born guitarist Oliver Drake and Bahraini/Austrian songwriter Dana Zeera Straylings conjure up a mess of sound that owes a lot to the likes of Mazzy Star and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Fuzzy amped up rockers with a hint of Lee Hazelwood and Phil Spector sit side by side with spectral ballads drenched in echo and reverb. We’ve already mentioned the opening song, Carver’s Kicks when it was released as a single at the beginning of the year. It’s a perfect opener for the album with Zeera’s soaring spooky vocals and Drake’s vibrant guitar set over a runaway rhythm section that kicks a plenty. There’s a cinematic sense of space and drama in this corker of a song but it almost pales by comparison with the widescreen epic that is The Saguaro. Stinging Morricone type guitar whiplashes the driving rhythm as Zeera’s multitracked voice wails and beseeches. This dramatic screenplay continues with Kings of the Mire which is ushered in with crashing guitar chords over a Spector drumbeat on a primal scream of a song. While these are the songs that immediately grab the listener’s attention Straylings show that they can downclutch with a brace of songs that are more delicate while maintaining the basic template. Bitter Face is laced with an acoustic strum although squalls of electricity also run through it while Marie & The Dusty Lands is a simple piano and voice piece that still manages to convey the same sense of menace and drama as the full blown band pieces. The closing song To Lay Down Roots is a slow burn with walls of shimmering guitar and buried violin that manages to rise above its immediate resemblance to a song by Leonard Cohen.
The musty psychedelic aroma that surrounds the songs on the album sets it up as a fine successor to several of the Paisley Underground bands and the only quibble is that listened to in one sitting there is a sense that the band need to add a touch more variety to their songs, however that may come in time. In the meanwhile this is at times an exhilarating listen and it’s recommended that you turn up the volume.