Thursday, May 30 2024

Shenanygans are a decidedly and deliciously retro 4-piece from Solothum in Switzerland. Their debut single, ‘Count On Me’, was much lauded upon these hallowed pages, so forgive my gleeful, unrestrained anticipation for ‘Like Strangers.’ 

The most joyous aspect of this, for me, is that I don’t have to do any background and can immediately concentrate on the song, which opens with a lead motif alluringly similar to the vocal melody line from The Kinks, ‘Sunny Afternoon.’ That fits pretty well into my take on these guys; The Kinks, mixed with Love and the Beach Boys, with a sprinkling of those Scouse scamps, The Coral. It’s melodic. It’s ridiculously retro. It’s also incredibly well-written. 

The flow from the reflective, almost maudlin verses, filled with rich syrupy harmonies and whimsy, to the dominant beat, stomping, descending chorus is executed to perfection. The interplay between Dan and Kaylem’s voice makes for a dense and warming melodic stew with superb melodic-contour exercised; rising-fall, flat-rising, all mirrored in perfect harmony.

Indeed, both frontmen possess a fantastic musical ear and beautiful natural tone; mid-tenor, with good range and enough divisive variation and tools to show they have voices capable of exuding a rich charismatic air. There’s no sense of any brittleness, nor holes in their ranges; they’re strong, controlled and crystal clear.

The song follows a similar format and structure to most pop/rock songs, with a standard Rondo layout of Verse and Chorus interlaced with the lead ostinato and then a mid-section occupied by an obligatory lead break. The sound is over-driven with a flange effect, to offer a slice of psychedelia. It’s functional with some interesting phrasing, but by the time it comes along you’re already so enamoured with the rich Beach Boy-esque harmonies that it’s almost unwelcomingly pointed.


Thankfully the harmonies return with the addition of an accompanying xylophone, to offer some more chiming whimsy. It really is delightful. Nostalgic, yes, but with a deep rooted knowledge of that era. Thematically and narratively simple, but oh so effective, I almost forgive them for the lead break. 

There is a distinct air of resignation throughout the song narratively, but this woe is juxtaposed by the frankly, upbeat, jangly guitars, causing a strange dichotomy and ambiguity. It’s resigned to loss, but reflective enough to identify the good. This gives the song an extra layer; a depth. A resonance. Which shows that the band are able to weave often conflicting emotions into their eye-catching sing-a-long, Indie-pop-rock. Another reason to love them, frankly.

Production wise ‘Like Strangers’, is fair to good, but with the same attention that has clearly been given to the treatment of vocals, extended to the guitars, this could be a stand-out album track. There are a few ‘bum’ notes littered throughout the picked acoustic guitar track after the first chorus, that could have been softened through EQ’ing, or just re-recorded. To be honest, I think the accenting clashes with the lead line on this section causing an air of dissonance. I also don’t believe that the over-driven lead-break offers much, particularly in the first few bars. Sometimes less is more. At 4 minutes and 43 seconds this is a long, long song. I personally believe it to be too long. However, there are all the components present here to make this an unforgettable 3-minute to 3-minute 30 seconds song, in the same bracket as ‘Sunny Afternoon’. The harmonies are delicious. The melodies are captivating. It’s a well-written song, beautifully sung by 2 very talented individuals, that will get better and better.

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The very best elements and nostalgia of ’60s rock/pop fused with rich syrupy harmonies.


Song Quality
Vocal Performance


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About Author

Gareth Johnston

Gareth Johnston is a Lancashire based musician and producer who studied music at MMU. He is a former reviewer for 'Glitzine' and when not writing for 'The Indie Grid' can be found restoring old furniture whilst listening to obscure alt-rock. He has too many favourite bands to pick one and insists it's easier to pick a favourite child.

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