You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover; the very first song on Steve Stroud’s album Hot Pink Flamingos will explain exactly why. Scanning through some of the song titles, I expected music that was going to be really bouncy and maybe a bit silly.
Given my expectations, I was bowled over when I started listening to the first track on the album, “The Ant People Are Coming.” It turned out to be a really well written ballad of sorts, with some really nice vocals. It even had some whammy bars and voice samples incorporated at the end for flair. The song also tells a good story, funny title notwithstanding.
The album continues much along this path. A feature that really stands out a great deal to me is the quality of Stroud’s voice. He shows off his higher pitch in “Jack Frost Hat” as well as some gritty growl type vocal effects. In “As The Light Hits Liverpool,” he uses a vocal layering technique that had me second-guessing whether he’d brought in a guest vocalist or simply recorded himself and layered that. And “Better Than Dreaming” gives a brilliant show of his lower range, going fearlessly to the opposite end of the spectrum from where he started.
Another standout feature is the sweetness behind the lyrical content of some of the songs. “If You’ve Really Got To Be Remembered” is one of the best examples of this, with soaring violin notes creating a very showy sound to back up the deep songwriting. Another good example was “The Attack of The Merman,” which is, based on the lyrics, one of the sweetest attack songs I’ve ever heard.
Even the light and fun “Drunks & Whores” had a striking touch of realism to it; it’s one of those songs anybody could identify with for one reason or another.
It was cool to listen to this album, mostly because the song titles were in such stark contrast to the actual sound and content of the music. At the very heart of this album is the desire to tell highly relatable stories about life, packaging them in sweet rock ballad form and tacking them behind intriguing and attention grabbing titles. Come to think of it, it was a rather genius move, and certainly a good idea for this album. For a healthy dose of reality with some humor and sweet tunes, give this album a listen.
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