This ‘Strange Names’ review was written by Justin Shaw, a GIGsoup contributor.

The release of the ‘Use Your Time Wisely’ sees the long awaited full-length debut of the Minneapolis trio, ‘Strange Names’.

The opening track ‘Return’ and later tracks ‘Where & Why’, and ‘Neighborhood’ are reminiscent of what was cool about 1980’s new wave and power pop. Having already been compared to some of the era’s most influential acts, such as ‘The Human League’, ‘Talking Heads’, and ‘XTC’ among others, ‘Strange Names’ pay homage to these artists in the form of this ageless LP.

Many of the songs are satisfyingly good and could be considered mini-achievements when heard separately. However, when listening to the album as a complete work, from beginning to end, there are several points of similarity. With little variation through song progression, beat, and layout there are few really distinctive songs. ‘Ricochet’ sounds like ‘Trespassing’, sounds like ‘Only Boy’ and on and on…

‘Use Your Time Wisely’ is not a great album, but it is by no means a bad album. Since the release of their self-titled EP in 2012 ‘Strange Names’ are taking steps in the right direction, achieving a fuller and crisper sound, with tighter chemistry they are on their way to becoming something potentially big. There is no denying that with its slow synth, a particular warmth to the cinematically descriptive lyrics, and ever steady tempo, ‘Use Your Time Wisely’ was always meant to offer a summer vibe.  Hopefully their success won’t be seasonal.

‘Use Your Time Wisely’ is out now on Frenchkiss Records

The full track-listing for Use Your Time Wisely is as follows…

‘Return’

‘Ricochet’

‘I Can’t Control Myself’

‘Supernatural Silence’

‘Only Boy’

‘Where & Why’

‘Neighborhood’

‘Trespassing’

‘Brick City’

‘Love & Truth (Is There A Place)’

‘Overused Phrase’

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