REVIEW: Strange Talk – ‘Cast Away’

'Cast Away' is available now via Wind-up Records

Strange Talk cast away album cover

Tune up the drum pads and turn the synths to 11, Strange Talk is here for the party. In 2013, the Australian electronic-rockers released their debut album, Cast Away. The band made Cast Away available to the rest of the world just last month after teaming up with Wind-up Records.

The album starts off with the title track which, until the vocals begin, feels like a lost Passion Pit track. Listeners will likely be somewhat disappointed when an unfamiliar voice greets them. But hey, give the boys a chance; change can be a good thing. The four musicians lock in to the sound and keep it going. The album could be the playlist at your “alternative” friend’s house party. Strange Talk have figured out the formula for the so-hot-right-now mixture of alternative rock and dance music. Tracks like “Cast Away” and “Climbing Walls” are undeniably catchy and danceable. They branch out a little, best displayed on the slowed down “Come Back Home,” featuring a surprise guitar solo, but they have a style and they’re sticking to it. Perhaps too much.

Cast Away could soundtrack your next dance session, but that playlist might be getting a bit full. The effects covered guitars, prominent synths, and heavy bass fall in close proximity to bands such as Phoenix, Empire of the Sun, Cut Copy, and the previously mentioned Passion Pit, to name a few. It’s hard to separate Strange Talk from numerous contemporaries playing at the same genre. Alternative-dance music often doesn’t have a lot of originality anyways, so Cast Away falls in a dangerous place.

Looking at the album, there’s not a lot to make it pop. Most of the strengths rely in its catchiness. Most of the catchiness can probably be contributed to repeating multiple parts in most songs and featuring short repeated phrases as choruses. I encourage you to listen closely to “Cast Away” and count the number of times you hear “set fire to the night”—I’ll save you the trouble, it’s twenty. Twenty times.  While such simplistic song structures and shameless attempts to weasel into your memory are common in popular dance music, the point of alternative-dance music is to be alternative to the typical.  Strange Talk’s reliance on over-used and worn out techniques lets their music slide by without much of an impression.

A casual listener could easily appreciate Cast Away. The album appeals to the slightly-alternative dance craze that’s sweeping the nation. However, with a little awareness, Strange Talk’s debut doesn’t have much more to offer. The waves of synth and pumping beats don’t hide much. Cast Away is easy to get pick up, but ultimately more of the same.

Cast Away is available now via Wind-up Records.