Whatever you’re doing–put it down, up, or away. Run home and open your most used music app because this is the alternative rock and pop album we’ve been waiting for since Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, which is (arguably) one of the best alternative/indie/other synonym of all time; the word ‘arguably’ being used loosely. It just is.
In the year 2016, most genres have seen their guiding light, their straight from the heavens twelve track album that is lyrically, theatrically and instrumentally cohesive.
Or, you can call Home of the Strange the Dangerous Woman of rock in 2016. Not great enough to be the Lemonade, but it deserves more of the recognition it will probably receive.
In their third studio album, the Orange County based band stripped back the sounds that made them famous: “Cough Syrup,” and “My Body,” to name a few, and skirted around the synth heavy sophomore album Mind Over Matter, released in 2014. In a time where it’s considered gutsy to take on a political stance, the band lands straight on the bulls eye and all but says, “Listen to what I’ve got to say.”
Within the first four minutes, “Amerika,” sets the tone with lyrics like: “It’s a rich kids game / And I didn’t grow up with a throne / It’s all it really is.” The song is reportedly inspired by Franz Kafka’s published and unfinished novel of the same name.
It’s only one of the songs that show that the modern-rockers plan to continue to use their platform to peel back the layers of their personal voyages: Lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia’s parents are Indian immigrants, while bassist Payam Doostzadeh is Persian-American. With dynamic layers of synth-pop and hard keys, Home of the Strange is something like their old sound, but everything like a new one.
“Silvertongue” flips back to “Cough Syrup” but leans more heavy towards The 1975’s “The Sound,” with heavily altered vocals that blends into an anthem-like chorus (“I’m addicted to madness, but what can I do?”), while “Something to Believe In” hits the drums with honey-slow lyrical delivery by Gadhia, before picking up the husk of the chorus that relies on the “hoo” and “ha”‘s that shadow the track.
“Titus was Born,” is soft and acoustically driven, a la Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Gadhia’s voice is eerily reminiscent of Chris Martin’s falsetto. “Nothing’s Over,” bleeds repetitive lyrics: “It’s over, nothing’s over / I’ll grow up when I’m older,” before slipping into an instrumental break. More often than not, there’s a lyric that will hit you over the head, and there’s nothing you’ll be able to do about it. It’s surprisingly stressful, beautiful, and hard to listen to. It’s what makes this album good.
Home of the Strange sits heavy in it’s case, full electronic sound affects and cloying lyrics that makes it a unique LP to crack open and devour.