Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

The Strumbellas – Spirits

I’d have expected more from a band whose name sounds like the title of a mid-00s cartoon about teenage witches…


Cassy Gress: Bands like the Strumbellas sound like they belong on empty rail cars, the kind that runaways jump into in stories, with a little bit of scattered straw around, stomping their feet and singing and passing around a jug of something or another. While the train chugs away from me.

Iain Mew: I get that someone’s really proud of their indie mixtape, but I wish they’d stop skipping between tracks. I’d rather listen to Magic! or The Lumineers or Of Monsters & Men or Mull Historical Society(?) than disjointed sections of each of them.

Claire Biddles: A song that absolutely lives up to the teeth-grindingly awful half-pun of the group’s name, which I can’t bring myself to repeat. The increasingly watered-down course of earnest indie-folk can be traced directly from Arcade Fire’s first album through to the emotions-as-floor-toms-and-woahs of Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers, to this lowest-common-denominator dirge which feels like the inevitable death of this wave of the genre. The singer claims the group as “strange” before launching into an unremarkable chorus, surrounded in the video by a group of self-consciously “kooky” characters that resemble the most boring attendees of fancy dress hellhole Bestival circa 2007. Sugar skulls! Pirates! How weird!! I am 100% certain that every member of this group has brought an acoustic guitar to a party on at least one occasion and that alone is enough for me to despise them. 

Will Adams: It’s easy to shit on the pleasant blandness of the Of Mumfords and Lumineersmen sound that was so omnipresent four years ago, but to those bands’ credit, they never sounded this flimsy. The chorus melody here seems better suited to a kids’ cereal commercial, while these folks’ performance would probably get shot down at a house party.

Patrick St. Michel: Now I know what Will Oldham would sound like if he wrote music for BuzzFeed.

Sonia Yang: This is definitely written to be a sing-along crowd pleaser; the set closer before the inevitable encore. In a live setting, it would be the peak of performer-audience synergy. On record, it starts strong and loses steam around the bridge. The lyrics teeter on the border of profound in simplicity and heavy-handed due to repetition, but the “fighting your inner demons” theme is one I enjoy no matter how many times it’s been done. 

Brad Shoup: Conscientiously objecting to this off-key, room-temp tribute to Viva la Vida.

Josh Langhoff: Reckoning with survivalist neighbors and the ghosts of her parents, the narrator of Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing — “ice-clear, transparent, my bones and the child inside me showing through the green webs of my flesh” — wanders into a production of Rent and, um, learns how to be a good person or something.

Alfred Soto: They got guns in their head, bats in their belfry, and acoustic guitars in their hands. Hide your children.

Reader average: [3.25] (4 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

2 Responses to “The Strumbellas – Spirits”

  1. cassy’s blurb is ON POINT

  2. The Mull Historical Society mention is pure excellence.