Tuesday, January 31, 2012

STRANGEWAYS: "Age Of Reason"

Rating: 8/10

Label: Dangerous Dog Records 2011

Review by Satu Reunanen

Strangeways, one of my favourite bands ever since I heard them the first time ages ago, is out with their eight studio album. This might seem a surprise to some, because the hype always seems to be around "Native Sons" (released 1986) and "Walk In The Fire" (1989), like the band hadn't recorded in ages. In fact their latest releases before "Age Of Reason" were "Perfect World" (2010), and "Gravitational Pull" (2000). Yeah, there was quite a gap between these albums, but Strangeways has always been there in our hearts, and never really disappeared too far.

There hasn't been much change in the band's music through the years, "Age Of Reason" is just a more mature album that stays even more in the mellower area mixing rock, aor and blues, which Strangeways has always done. The band has stayed true to their classic sound, it is something warm and cozy, something new bands struggle to find these days. It is this sound that always brings me back to this sort of music and Strangeways. Put on a Strangeways album and you're always right at home. It would be crazy to change something as perfect as this. And what makes it an even more enjoyable listen is the vocals of Terry Brock, who has always had a great sound.

Mostly filled with midtempo and ballad stuff, this album might not be for some Strangeways fans, as it doesn't carry rockers in the style of the two earlier mentioned eighties albums. It does have its moments though, and as a whole the songs are still very Strangewayish, only very laid back. I still find the old warmth in each song, the album flows like a seamless dream. As such it is very easy listening. My favourite two ballads are thrown in a row, "Playin' It Over" and "As We Fall". These songs show how strong Strangeways has always been in ballads department, sending chills down my spine once again. The few rockers on offer, "The Sentinel", "Run" and "Frozen" don't much stand out from the whole picture as the tempo changes aren't big, but each song gives you more and more through each listen. "The Sentinel" is a good opener, and there's no denying the collaboration between Brock and guitarist Ian James Stewart always makes Strangeways moments worthwhile. "Age Of Reason" is a beautiful album for daydreaming.

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