The Struts Play Young and Dangerous
Young and Dangerous (2018) is the second full-length release by The Struts. In it they continue their infectious attack on pop-rock led by guitars and great vocals.
But the model of success employed on the band’s first album, 2014’s Everybody Wants, is their nemesis on their sophomore attempt.
The Struts are rightly compared to the pop side of Queen — a comparison that can only help a new band.
But a Queen album contains both radio hits and long-form explorations that challenge their fans. By comparison, the Struts have not strayed from the cozy, mass-appeal domain.
Okay, So Here’s the Problem…
As of yet, The Struts focus on punchy, 3 to 4-minute pop songs with a classic-rock sensibility. Their albums are saturated with clear verse/chorus forms and vocal hooks ready to party.
This template works great on their first album. Nearly all the tracks scream, “Play me again!” as soon as they end. Highlights include “Roll Up,” “Could Have Been Me,” “Mary Go Round,” and “Kiss This.” Hell, let’s just toss in the remaining tracks on the CD.
This “all in” pop approach to an album is critically dependent on one issue — GREAT SONGS. There is no room for what used to be called “deep tracks,” “album cuts,” or simply “filler.”
If you attempt to create an album that serves as a collection of pop-hit singles, you don’t get to include fluff. Every tune must be a chart killer.
On that measure, Everybody Wants is a brilliant success. However, Young and Dangerous is found wanting. After listening to the album many times across several weeks I arrive at one conclusion — the songs don’t cut it.
“Body Talks” with or without Kesha is a treasure and I offer congratulations to the band for a ripping performance on the Tonight Show.
Furthermore, vocalist Luke Spiller simply gushes talent on the catchy “In Love with a Camera.” He is equally as impressive on the poignant “Somebody New.”
Unfortunately, those three songs are as deep as the well gets. The rest of Young and Dangerous just slips from memory. Three great songs are all it takes to make a “good” album, but I want more from one of my favorite new bands.
But Here’s Why the Struts Are Still Awesome…
The good news is that The Struts are in excellent company! Many fabulous bands in rock history have underwhelming second albums after excellent debuts.
The Black Crows, the Cars, Rush, Aerosmith, to name some examples. The issue they all faced was having years to refine every nuance of their first album but only six months to create a follow up.
Most bands simply don’t have the muscle to pull off an opening two-fer like Led Zeppelin or Cream did.
Down the Road
A band as good as The Struts is going to be just fine. They are one of the most exciting young acts in the guitar-based pop-rock genre. I love their swagger and unapologetic grasp of being “rock stars.” Especially in an era when the concept mostly applies to musicians who qualify for the senior discount at Denny’s.
In the future, I’d like to see The Struts break into extended song forms and feature guitarist Adam Slack more often. And what about drummer Gethin Davies and bassist Jed Elliott? What more can they contribute?
Their videos have a grand vision of “four young lads having a fine time.” It would be nice to see that joyful level of equality demonstrated on the next album (especially on the cover). If they stay the course of “it’s all about the singer,” they’ll end up in the same sale bin Greta Van Fleet is heading for.
I rate it…4 out of 5 rock stars.
To purchase a copy of Young and Dangerous, click here.