Think Americana, think 1950s doo-wop, then reassemble everything you know about either and repackage it as a 21st century Scottish band. Do that and you’ll get The Strange Blue Dreams, a band that thrives on classic clichés and also the sorrows of the southern states, a band living their dreams, and a band that has just released their self-titled debut album.
The first thing you’ll noticed about ‘The Strange Blue Dreams’ is a glossy, very well-polished style of production that doesn’t necessarily act as a determent to any of the band’s very human instrumentation, comprised of moonshine-soaked guitar strings, sometimes staccato, sometimes tremolo, always in full cowboy mode. It’s very impressive throughout the album, particularly on the song ‘Twilight Zone’, that the band have managed to gaze into the eyes of their influences, whether country or western or just two thirds southern, and have managed to whip up a very authentic-sounding batch of neo-blues tunes. Seriously, you’d never think Scottish necks could be so red.
Songs like ‘Electricity’ and ‘Jungle Drums’ also see the band affectionally wear their influences on their collective sleeve, even if the latter might seem too gimmicky. But even so, there is a negative takeaway and that would be the fact that while the band have polished and perfect the style of music they love playing, they’re not really doing much to add to it. Outside of some of the aforementioned tunes, and ‘Lyrebird’, it just sounds like the band have been told to write a specific style of song, and they’ve done that, without making it that much more subversive or gripping, see the likes of ‘Reverberatin’ Love’ and perhaps more accurately ‘Pretending Everything’. The Strange Blue Dreams have their chops, but chops aren’t everything.
There’s actually a lot to sink your teeth into and enjoy on ‘The Strange Blue Dreams’, so by all means, take a listen. However, considering the lonely cowboy vibe it gives off, considering the horse-riding and the saloon-crooning, there really isn’t enough adventure.
‘The Strange Blue Dreams’ is out now via Holy Smokes Records