The sophomore album from Derby glam rockers The Struts has been a long time coming. It’s 4 years since their debut ‘Everybody Wants’ hit the shelves and the last few years has seen the band come a long way. They took the sharp move of relocating to the US in 2015 and have toured hard there ever since, building a fan base opening for the likes of Gn’R, The Stones, The Who and then touring with The Foo Fighters, winning over a hoard of new, young fans along the way.
With the imminent release of the Queen biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, it seems the perfect time to release an album that draws on the flamboyancy, the theatrics and the drama of that classic band. Love em or loathe em, The Struts are a band full of ambition, emotion and killer choruses that cannot be ignored.
First up, it appears someone had the bright idea to bookend the album with two versions of ‘Body Talks’ which seems slightly odd, especially as the more popular version with Kesha on vocals is tagged on at the end, yet the epic ‘Ashes (part 2)’ seems like a more natural album closer. Why not just go all out and put the Kesha version as the album opener and bin the original version? They are pretty similar anyway and the two singers voices work well together. Don’t just slip it on the end hoping hardcore Struts fans won’t notice, but Kesha fans will be drawn in by its inclusion. Embrace the pop collaboration record company bigwigs, you normally do!
“Hey you, don’t you know who I think I am?’ Shouts singer Luke Spiller in the opening line of recent single ‘Primadonna Like Me’. You want your rock ‘n’ roll stars confident and cocksure, with attitude to match? Spiller has it all in spades. It rides on an overly familiar Stones riff that has been used more times than I’ve had hot dinners, but if Primal Scream and The Dandy Warhols can get away with it, then why not The Struts too? It’s a proper glam stomper that struts (sorry) like all big hits should. Delivered from the crotch, Spiller’s trademark rolling of the r’s, and the “do ya wanna” refrain make it a winner, a song that has ‘big hit’ stamped all over it.
Describing The Struts without referencing Queen is like eating a doughnut without licking your lips, nigh on impossible to do! Yet they don’t actually sound like a carbon copy, it’s more in the vocals and the delivery, rather than the songwriting. I mean, the falsetto vocals and glam stomp of ‘In Love with a Camera’ puts them somewhere between The Darkness and Foxy Shazam which ain’t a bad place to be. But the likes of ‘Fire (part 1)’ and ‘Tatler Magazine’ are as Queen as you can get. The former, produced by Butch Walker, builds to an epic, euphoric chorus, accentuated with layers of vocal harmonies. The latter contains all the pomp and circumstance you would expect from a band that cites Queen as a major influence and a band who want fame, fortune and the whole shebang.
Obligatory ballad ‘Somebody New’ is designed to make the girls swoon and shed a tear. Ironically, it was written by the singer while he was taking a dump! Not so much lighters in the air, as Febreeze methinks, I could live without this tune, to be honest.
Elsewhere, and in complete contrast, they take a chance and get all ‘Hot Space’ on ‘Who I Am’ and they actually pull it off in effortless fashion. The 70’s Rod Stewart meets Scissor Sisters pumping disco vibes are perfect for Spiller’s Freddie-esque delivery. It’s an album highlight.
I must admit I rolled my eyes at the balladic intro of ‘Ashes (Part 2)’, but it actually builds to an epic Queen style stomper with a classy harmonised solo to boot and even a nod to The Who as it reaches its climax. As I said earlier, it feels like the natural album closer.
‘Young & Dangerous’ is an album that’s rich in rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia, harking back to a time when rock music WAS pop music. Yet, it has a glossy, contemporary feel. Their glam-tinged, pop rock anthems resonate with the youth of today and now they have made waves in the US, I’m sure they will set their sights on the UK and the rest of the world.
There’s a lot of talk recently about where all the rock stars are, where are the new GnR, the AC/DC for the next generation, where are the future stadium headliners? Well, like them or not The Struts are leading the pack as contenders, they are the poster boys for a new generation of rock music lovers who need larger than life characters to look up to. And Luke Spiller is a man who was born to do this, will you deny him his place amongst the stars?