Thursday, August 4, 2011

Album Review: Strength “Mind-Reader”

Album Review: Strength “Mind-Reader”

Album | Alternative | 24 mins.

Strength burst onto the Portland, Ore. music scene in mid-2006, garnering critical acclaim with the release of their debut album, “Going Strong.” Known for their over-the-top stage shows along the West Coast and in Europe, their recorded output has been lacking. After a long wait, the trio premiered “Mind-Reader,” their second album, on September 3. Funky bass, synthesized melodies and smooth vocals are steady throughout the eight track compilation.
The trio sets the mood for the album with “Metal,” a very catchy opener. The second song follows this stylistic template with “Brandy,” an R&B tune not unlike Beck’s “I Wanna Get With You.” There’s not much about this tongue-in-cheek song that the lyric “Let me rub you down with brandy” doesn’t say. There are a few misses; despite some potential, “Marianne” is plagued by a slow tempo and lyrics borrowed from any 1980s power ballad. However, the album recovers to finish strong. “Overheat” introduces a smooth and spacey rhythm that continues into the final song on the album, “Radio Back.”

Strength manages to weave its influences into its act without sounding trite or derivative. For instance, many fans have made a comparison between lead vocalist Bailey Winters and the King of Pop. Not only does Winters perform a crotch grab maneuver on stage, but his group has filled this album with thumping rhythms sure to have you moonwalking down the quarter mile. One such anthem is “Blood,” a vampire-themed song reminiscent of “Thriller.” The song “Disaster” breaks from the established format, and bears a similarity to the “Power Rangers” theme. “Wilderness” shares a groove similar to indie rock band Ratatat’s hit instrumental, “Wildcat.”
Though not for everyone, their sound is likely to please fans of bands such as Fujiya & Miyagi, Chromeo and Vitalic. Clocking in at a mere 24 minutes, “Mind-Reader” may be short, but this collection of thoughtfully-composed songs is a great addition to your music library, whether you are looking to throw a legendary dance party, or just want to introduce a little retro-inspired magic to your ears.

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