With Static Thoughts, The Estranged attempt to combine the volatile combination of post-punk and punk with positive results on the whole. The album could have been a disaster on the scale of the Hindenburg, but instead is a balanced combination of contemporary post-punk songs that rely on traditional punk rock's finer cornerstones - two to three minute numbers that are fast, simple, catchy, and - in this case - bleak. Rewind about twenty-five years to the heyday of post-punk - think bleak like Siouxie or Sisters of Mercy and not The Cure and you are on the right track.
Static Thoughts has a decidedly darker bent than most albums from Dirtnap's untouchable roster, and their sound harkens back to Pacific Northwest punk-kid household names Wipers, Joy Division and Wire rather than Ramones or Buzzcocks like most releases. Past tense post-punk influences Static Thoughts, but the band refuses to be categorized so easily with a cohesive set of ten songs that follow post-punk's enormous shoes: tension-filled guitar licks that prickle the ears, bass that rumbles in the belly and quick-witted, almost off-kilter drum timings.
The Estranged is composed of ex-crust/hardcore band Remains of the Day members,and while they have left most elements of the genre behind, Jeff Morris' speedy drumming and the raw vocals of Mark are derivative of the frantic pacing of hardcore. Static Thoughts successfully creates a speed freak version of post-punk that keeps the band sounding tight and quite comfortable in their new genre, and the driving punk rock influence keeps the album in forward motion especially on "Nervous Blood" and "Static Thoughts."
Clever embellishments also keep the energy high through the semi-gloom on the record; the keys on "Don't They Know" or the sick guitar solo on "Image of More" are nice touches. Static Thoughts is more than a one trick pony and unlike most bands in this revived genre the depth, along with the talent is there. "The Message" is a indicator of the scope that The Estranged can maintain throughout one song; starting out with a quick drum-roll which is thrown off by tight-stringed guitar screams which forms a bright, bouncing sound with the singer delivering his message on cue which abruptly changes into a Misfits-esque anthem before retreating again to where it began.
Indeed, Static Thoughts is more than a throwback to a deceased genre; The Estranged cultivate their bleak post-punk sound with a heavy lean on punk rock giving the often angsty music a much needed rainy day. Crossing musical genre's is a risky but Static Thoughts is clever, quick and done with so much gusto so that the crossover is not even felt.
8.1 / 10
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