Today’s No Different (EP) by Strange Lives

1) Hopeless Romantic
2) Only Chemicals
3) Pretty Cool
4) (Love Won’t) Break My Fall
5) Right Now

Three-piece powerhouse Strange Lives inject 2020 with some much needed 00s alt rock anthems in their second EP Today’s No Different.

Thematically centred around “youthful regret, dreams, and hope”, Strange Lives borrow elements from all genres ranging from 80s pop to emo rock. The combined effect is a refreshing take on nostalgic teen angst, giving emo a much-needed lick of polish and relatability for international audiences young and old alike.

Opener Hopeless Romantic packs a hefty grunge punch peppered with nods to indie experimentalism- we’re talking thick guitars riffs, a resounding bass line, and twinkling percussion elements. The lyrics are suitably dark, invoking the haunting 40s song Gloomy Sunday; “Lost my mind on a gloomy Sunday morning / Figured I had nothing [else] to lose”. Pair this with layered vocals and harmonies which bear resemblance to synth pop outfits, and you have true cross-modular mayhem.

Only Chemicals, with its summery exuberance which oozes Ain’t It Fun-era Paramore, is a major-key celebration of the dizzying heights of falling in love. Backed by trilling backing vocals, pounding synth, and a chorus that demands to be danced to, this track is the aural embodiment of nascent teen romance. Vocalist Elliot’s cadence veers more into talk-singing, mirroring the effect of Black Kids’ “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” and harkening back to 90s hip hop sensibilities.

Softcore rock has its day in court with Pretty Cool, a track which employs the lyrical framework of story narration. Melodic teenage angst in shades of bubblegum punk, everything about this track feels slick and stylised. Jimmy Eat World would be proud!

Penultimate track (Love Won’t) Break My Fall is full of juxtapositions. A sobering examination of how love itself sometimes isn’t enough to save you, the serious subject matter is given some levity by being levelled with fresh, airy guitar work. Playing with the offbeat, the staccato guitar bridge punctuates repeated exclamations of “OH!” in a way which makes it all too easy to imagine a crowd singalong at a live show.

Finally, Right Now rounds the EP off with peppy optimism. Guitars strum over a steady drumbeat and soft vocals provide a fake-out before a fist-pounding chorus, strong hooks accented by melodic “oohs” for an extra dose of pop embellishment. The synth keyboard outro is an intuitive display of hindsight, linking Right Now to its predecessors and creating cohesion between all tracks on the EP.

Listen to Strange Lives’ two EPs via Spotify, YouTube, and bandcamp!
– Jasmine Gould-Wilson

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