The self-titled release Stray Amour by Stray Amour is an excellent album of dream pop and shoegazing songs. With bubbling synths, huge reverbed guitars and sampled drums, the album harkens back to My Bloody Valentine though mixed with a more poppy version of Beach House.
The guitar work is quite admirable throughout. The buildups on songs like “Why Doesn’t It Ever Seem To End” and the melody solo on “Desired Reality” infuse great tone with great feel and performance. “Nothing Feels The Way It Did Once” incorporates Andy Summers-like arpeggios and the closing song “Into Tomorrow” has some excellent dueling and harmonized lines that swim around the vocal melody effortlessly.
The synths are interesting in tone and use too. From the swells in the short instrumental interlude “Amalfi” to the arpeggiating/modulating sounds in “Desired Reality” to the buzzing organ tones of “While I’m Waiting For You” to the bubbling sounds in “Ravenna,” lots of different tones and timbres are explored from the conventional to the synthetic.
The sampled drums are mostly successful in the album as well, though they work strongest with the use of the acoustic shakers like in the song “Desired Reality.” The handclap like sounds that play the backbeat in “Ravenna” is a clever use of them as well, something different but effective.
The last part of the album is curious in that it moves away from the electric guitar driven songs of the first part by incorporating ukulele and acoustic guitar. The songs have a bit more folk elements at the top and evolve into the more indie/dance rock by adding synths and beats. The contrapuntal bass in “While I’m Waiting For You” works well to bridge these worlds, but some interspersing of these more “acoustic” songs throughout the record rather than all together might help with the overall flow a bit.
The only song that never really takes off is the shuffle-based “Renfe.” It’s an interesting excursion but feels a bit repetitive. It’s followed by “The Nights Have Never Seemed So Deep” which has a great use of space in the arpeggiated chiming guitars, string synths and a driving bass line (perhaps played on the guitar) through the solo that really launches the song into the stratosphere.
The songs are well written, well sung, well performed and well recorded. The order of the songs might be reordered for flow, but each song is good and whatever Stray Amour has cooking up next, it should be highly anticipated.
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