Whilst other artists may pay homage to their heroes in an altogether literal sense by pillaging their song book and hoping no-one notices/cares or by cutting their hair into unfortunate bowl shapes and speaking in impenetrable ridiculous riddles, some manage to walk the delicate tight rope of influence but retain some kind of originality.
With the hiccupy dry-scratch yowl of a young Sky Saxon and their scuzzy ramshackle chug Texans Strange Boys haven’t changed their strict diet of Nuggets, fuzz and tumble weed that dominated their first album but what has developed is a new sense of identity through their droll lyrics and a strong collection of catchy melodies that should kick their sound out of the garage and onto the main stage if they can be bothered.
Be Brave has the endearing quality of being an oddly nonchalant affair, rather than arriving all guns ablazing and ready for the adoration of the haircuts and hipsters like so many other Rough Trade touted bands, it instead staggers lazily around your brain in a bizarrely underwhelming fashion like a drunken stranger at a party. Its sleepy-eyed delivery, all screechy vocals and wailing sighs gives the impression the band had to be coaxed like a pack of pouting teenagers into turning up to record it in the first place but as it disappears it leaves a trail of infectious gems embedded in your consciousness that demand further listening.
Its charm reveals itself as an album that’s more than a throw-away treat. The lo-fi feel and the reductive clever-clever indie boy cynicism which links them to their musical counterparts the Black Lips gives way to something more appealing, bright moments of intrinsic, unabashed melodic joy. From the howling bluesy cut and thrust of ‘Night Might’, the goofy girl group style call-and-response backing vocals and the thrillingly silly Stooges sax solo of the wonky title track to the dusky, rustic, patter of the addictive ‘Laugh at Sex, Not Her’ every track has its own distinctive appeal.
With his warped take on the old ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ adage Ryan Sambol warns on album opener ‘ I See’ that ‘tonight’s dinner is tomorrow’s shit so enjoy it before it stinks’ his razor sharp clarity offering a refreshingly honest summation of a band’s longevity and appeal. He can already foresee a future for Strange Boys in the murky toilet bowl of obscurity something that his forgotten one-hit-wonder would-be heroes of psych-pop were all too familiar with. Perhaps this pondering may lead to an occasion where influences worn on sleeves will eventually be rolled up and those Strange Boys will seize the opportunity to really be brave.