by: Jen Stratosphere
Virginia-based husband and wife duo Jake and Kim Reid, alumni of Shoegazer/New Wave band Alcian Blue, released their debut Interceptors in 2009 and are back with this second album on Custom Made Music. It's quite fitting that they share a last name with the Reid brothers of Jesus And Mary Chain because the tunes on Strange Behavior are shot through with the same scintillating guitar feedback that JAMC is known for, and Jake sometimes even sings in Jim Reid's lower, more menacing register.
While artist influences are evident (mostly JAMC and The Cure) throughout the album, Jake and Kim overcome mere copycatting with involving, propulsive arrangements of dynamic noise-pop and the occasional addition of a dance-pop element. Like contemporary Veil Veil Vanish, they blend the dark sensibility of searing guitars and ominous vocals and/or lyrics with brighter, yearning synth-work. It's a winning combination.
The pressing drone-pop of "We Don't Belong" zips along with an up-tempo beat and limpid guitar chime that recalls The Cure. Rockier guitar jags also make the cut, as well as a shining synth backdrop and Jake radiating a dispassionate coolness as he describes the "...emptiness every time I look in your eyes." Next number "Revival" lays on a JAMC-like burning guitar grind until an upbeat dance-pop tempo enters the fray. Amid the hard-driving guitar lines and propulsive pace Jake spectrally intones "...a voice in the dark..." Although this is definitely not a full-on dance track, it will make the listener want to get up and (attempt to) shake it
"Stay Asleep" features 80s New Wave production with a crisp, flat-smacked beat, distanced guitar shimmer, and wavering vocals. High, floating synth notes raise the song up as a downbeat Jake mourns that "...time is passing..." The standout of the bunch is the Western-edged, alt-folk noir "My Confession", with its measured pace, steady spur jingle, somber guitar refrain, and the sound of sustained wind in the background. Jake sing-talks in a deep, low tone, ominously stating "I'm gonna cast the first stone." as elongated, snaky synth lines weave around his vocals.
"Rx" brings back the dance-pop tempo with a fiery buzz of synths and a thumping beat played against slower, hollowed out woodwind synths. The layered sonics build up with an added clacking beat, distanced vocals, and guitar frisson. The album ends on a lighter, more hopeful note with "Night Trip". Space Invaders-like electronics and a restless beat are at mesmerizing odds with drawn-out, melancholic synth lines as a clear-voiced Jake admits that "It's time to get out of this darkness" before one last blast of noise ends the song.