Thursday, May 30 2024

Stray Currents, spearheaded by Chicago-based singer-songwriter and producer Jimmy O’Meara, have released their self-titled album, ‘Stray Currents‘ — which includes a candid exploration of themes like unrequited love, coming of age, and loss. Combining piano-based rock with pop and indie elements, the album offers a compelling listening experience and could compete with some of the big names in the genre.

Opening with ‘Fading Out Of Sight,’ we’re greeted with a slow piano progression that evolves into a pop / soft / rock song with softly and tender sung vocals. This reminds me of the pop-infused piano rock of The Fray with a touch of bedroom pop akin to Milky Chance.

Lost Cause’ is next and is a catchy pop / rock song à la Harry Styles. Without loud instruments the song’s powerful thanks to the snapping sound of the snare. I really love the solo on the clean guitar on this track. Blended with the laid-back vocals, the Stray Currents know how to deliver their lyrics and the softer style suits this song perfectly.

If I Can’t Love You’ is a slower beat than the previous songs, but the bass line sounds incredible. It has a deep low-end sound and the walks are simple but powerful. A well-mixed bass guitar is essential for a good mix. What I also like is the subtle presence of the backing vocals, giving the chorus that extra layer. It gave me vibes of Hootie in their mellower moments and the rhythmic nuances around 2 minutes really work well.

In ‘idrk’ the drum beat takes the center stage to support the vocals. It would be nice if the vocals added a touch more variety every now and then, but, I’m fast learning that this is essentially Stray Currents sound, and it’s not broken, so why fix it? The tunes are great and really grow on you. The guitar solo at the end breaks this song up at just the right time.

Stray Currents

In ‘Outside Looking In’ Stray Currents show that they’re not afraid to deviate from the rock elements and go all-in with the pop side. The offbeat of the drums sounds amazing and again, the tune has great potential. Especially the chorus. They did a solid job blending these different styles together. It sounds fresh, unique and not a ‘one of a kind ‘typical’ modern pop song. ‘Six Months’ is a fabulous piano-based ballad and after a minute the song adds depth thanks to the pounding drum beat. The double tracked vocals work great in this song. The subtle effects throughout the song keep it interesting for the listener. Personally, ‘Six Months’  is one of my favourites on the album and the ultimate love song.

In ‘How To Quit You’ and ‘Surround Me’ Stray Currents keep the pace low so you can melt away with the mellow beat and the dreamy vocals. Think of John Mayer meets Ben Folds. ‘Introspection’ follows and is another winner. It’s a great tune driven again by the vocals accompanied by smooth piano and guitar sounds. The vibe reminded me of Eel’s ballads, and as a big Eels-fan, this appealed to me a lot. But at this point, a more up-tempo song or a surprising element would be nice to break the slow-paced tempos and keep the listener hooked. It can be done and still keep coherence, but this is just a minor niggle on a solid album.

What It’s Like’ (almost Jeff Buckley-esque),  ‘Don’t It Get You Down’ and the final song ‘Let Go’ are well-executed poppy ballads to end a well-produced collection of songs. Especially ‘Let Go,’ which is sung with such emotion that you can almost touch it. Think of Holly Humberstone’s ‘Please Don’t Leave Me Yet.’

Stray Currents’ self-titled album is a fantastic pop debut about love and loss with standout songs like ‘Lost Cause’, ‘Six Months’ and ‘Surround Me’. The quality of the tracks could easily be measured against artists like Harry Styles, The Fray and John Mayer who had a significant influence on the Stray Currents. Although the songs are similar, or, cohesive, and the vocals stay more or less in the same range, Stray Currents have delivered a fantastic album that could easily stand the test of time.     

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Review

Summary

The Stray Currents’ self-titled album is a captivating blend of piano-based rock, pop, and indie elements, exploring themes of love, growth, and loss. With standout tracks like ‘Lost Cause’ and ‘Six Months,’ this album delivers a modern pop experience that resonates with depth and emotion and could compete with the big names in the industry.
80%

Rating

Song Quality
Vocal Performance
Imstrumentation
Lyrics
Production
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About Author

Gee Nelson

Gee Nelson has been a musician, producer and songwriter since the '90’s. Besides music Gee loves reading, writing, watching British sitcoms and playing board games. His biggest influences are Green Day, Nirvana, Offspring and Eels. His favourite genre is 90’s and early 00’s (indie) rock.

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