Black Soul Strangers emerge from Ireland with clear ambitions for commercial radio. They are even described as “pop rock” in their press release although one suspects the band themselves would want a slightly edgier label. No matter, ‘Animate’ contains a clutch of songs which could catapult them into the big league
Attention has rightly focused on ‘The Haunting’. It has the potential to become one of this summer’s anthems; as the tender but tense verses build in to a euphoric chorus and an even more thrilling finale. However far this quartet get, they can say they have at least one truly great song to look back on. Tellingly, ‘Panic Sets Direction’ and ‘Lies’ provide a stirring opening blast but aren’t nearly as memorable.
There’s actually a satsifying aggression to a lot of ‘Animate’, with fiery guitars and pounding rhythms driving each song but the record never quite catches fire, perhaps because they are reminiscent of a recent slew of British bands with designs on the stadiums. That said, ‘Tristia’ sparkles with imagination; its chiming intro, yearning vocal and insistent levels of intensity form a standout in the middle of the record.
Black Soul Strangers operate in that field which straddles alternative and pop rock. Overall, they offer little that the likes of New Rhodes or South haven’t done before but like them they also show signs of greatness. It’s now just a case of seeing whether they can build on it.
New Rhodes, South, Blackbud, Thirteen Senses