As it turns out, the sunny shores of California is a lot closer to home than you think. All you need to do is turn on Shadows Like Strangers’ debut album ‘Cali’, and you can almost smell the ocean as you bop along to this ambitious little world of sound. The quartet hailing from Nottingham have been working hard and polishing their message into the world for the past few years, and as a result they are simply radiating those carefree, upbeat vibes that you’d expect while driving with the top down, in the blazing sunshine with this record.
The album opens with the mighty ‘Counterpart’, with just the right combination of zippy and bouncy riffs coupled with polished harmonies from vocalist Jezza Bruce, this is definitely a track to get you moving. The astoundingly professional feel is clear from the offset, and as we dip into ‘Love Again’ and ‘The Space Between Us’, we get a true sense of their love for rock with the head banging riffs and crashing percussion. Both tracks shine at their flawless and addictive choruses, so understated yet the words subtly score their way onto your heart.
‘Cali’ takes the tempo down a few notches with ‘A Way Home’ and the painfully raw ‘Sad Songs’. The opening line in the latter is truly one we have surely all felt: ‘I don’t wanna sing sad songs, but I keep getting hurt’. Bruce’s vocals echo against the harsh, empty void as the track opens, and they are hauntingly beautiful, and remain with you throughout this thought-provoking piece.
The inspiring use of the ocean and seagulls, the clinking of the lighter and the soft close of the car door gives ‘Coast to Coast’ a sense of location and belonging, cementing you into the heart of the Shadows Like Strangers world and you feel like you are embarking upon the ‘Cali’ journey along with them. The crashing waves brings a sense of relaxation that you didn’t even realise you needed, but was wonderful nonetheless.
The remainder of the record brings the feeling of joy back to the table, with ‘It Doesn’t Matter At All’ and ‘The Art of Falling Down’ placing them firmly into the rock side of proceedings. There’s a satisfying combination of pure rock anthems interspersed with slower, softer acoustic tones throughout ‘Cali’, and all positioned exactly where they need to be to pique your interest and curiosity in this truly talented quartet.
As the airy tones of closing track ‘Dead Happy’ enter your periphery, it is almost mesmerising to believe that this is the same band. The way it modestly builds into one last triumph is spectacular, and Bruce’s soaring vocals encapsulate this very feeling. For one last time, Shadows Like Strangers truly capture your soul.
‘Cali’ is most certainly, a stunningly well-crafted record and the perfect soundtrack to watch the world go by. This collection of songs are so effortlessly upbeat, and they simply ensnare you into your own little corner of the world, where nothing else matters, just you and Shadows Like Strangers.