The Straylings’s debut effort comes in the form of the compelling Entertainment on Foreign Grounds and it certainly leaves a lasting impression on the listener. Gaining praise from such people as Steve Lamacq, the band are definitely under a lot of pressure to deliver in this album and although at times, this record more than matches the hype that has been put at their door, at other times we are left underwhelmed by the songs on offer.
There is no doubt the Straylings have everything in their arsenal to make a massive impact in the industry. Dana Zeera’s voice is nothing short of brilliant and in songs such as the opener Carvers Kicks Zeera haunts the listener into submission. The bands show many glimpses of being a really good folk-based indie group with songs such as The Spoils and Kings of the Mire showing off the band’s ability to tell provocative stories that leave the listener with a lasting impression. Musically, the band keeps it simple throughout. Their strengths lie in atmospheric guitar riffs, sprinkled with a driving but disciplined rhythm section. Coupling this formulaic musicianship with Zeera’s distinctive vocals occasionally leaves the Straylings with shockingly thrilling musical moments. Marie and the Dusty Lands is a particular highlight of the album, turning down a mellower, more sombre mood whilst sticking to the principles that have been apparent throughout.
It is undeniable that the Straylings have much to offer. There is certainly nothing offensive about the record, nor is there anything remotely bad about it. There’s just something missing. I feel that it is a bit too mechanical in its approach to the album. There are moments when I am left really excited by what I’ve just heard like in the opening track and Marie and the Dusty Lands. It’s just a shame that there aren’t enough moments like that throughout Entertainment on Foreign Grounds. This is a band that has much promise, they just need to let go more.
Have a listen to Carver’s Kicks now, if you like: