Admittedly, I’m a little leery of a press kit that features more band photos than songs. Then again, this is an EP, so it’s probably me yakking about something inconsequential anyway. They’re just attachments. It’s not like they sent me glossies. More is always better, right?
Anyway, part of this record review might actually get to the record, which is a new EP from Minneapolis trio Strange Relations. It’s their first release on Tiny Engines after a full-length came out in 2015.
Pinpointing their sound is tricky. It walks many familiar lines under vague genre terms like indie, alternative and even dream pop and post-punk. It’s quirky and artistic, meandering but melodic.
Strange Relations also utilize strange song structures, picking and hopping through opener “Drift,” but calming the waters during drummer/vocalist Casey Sowa’s choruses. After the jaunty feel of the first song, the following “Ceremonies” is dreamy and lush, showing an ambient bent with some reverb to top off the atmospheric and ascending vibe. While the two songs are different, Sowa’s consistent vocal tone and the ethereal soundscape unify the two tracks.
The latter half of this four-songer is in the same tone: a drifter in a hazy landscape, but determinedly following her own path through the fog. The first minute and a half of “Predation” feels like an eerie Bjork video, given added depth via muted catcall backing vocals. Over the next two-plus minutes it twists and turns through moods and emotions, cycling through emotions instead of climaxing. Mirroring the first half’s wandering-but-positive vibe, “Weeknites” has more pep but ultimately that same overall tone. It features more back-up vocals than the other songs and the layering complements it well, while some sneaky ‘90s Kill Rock Star reminiscent post-punk deconstruction occasionally pulls it in a new direction.
For all the mention of reverb and haze, Strange Relations aren’t lost in dense atonal world though. It feels the weight of the world, but with a steadfast and positive approach to make the most and burst through the murk.
7.0 / 10
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