As popists and rockists wage pointless pitched battle, Stripped have always adhered to the cult of the song, preferring to take the role of tunesmiths who exhalt composition over flash and muscle.
This is a band which references rather than repeats, picks at rather than plunders, tips a hat to the music it loves rather than tries to copy wholesale and the result is a rather wonderful and fully formed British take on Southern music
One moment the listener is offered spoken narrative pieces, the next sumptuous West Coast retro-pop, post-punk pasts meet post-rock futures, florid baroque grandeur meets restrained minimalism, musical minds meet and meld and opposites seem to effortlessly attract and form new musical partnerships.
Ever since Joe Meek first conducted his homemade musical experiments at the start of the rock ‘n’roll era, musicians have been fascinated with trying to capture the idea of the otherworldly in sound, be it journeys into outer or inner space, and Nick’s musical odyssey into the subconscious stands alongside the best of them.
Albums should grab you from the off, entice you, draw you in and wrap you up in their own musical plane of existence. The Dayoffs are aware of this, even if they are not aware that they are aware of this, because from the opening salvo of hazy loveliness that goes by the name of 15, I was smitten.
Obviously touches of his previous Americana flavours from his days both as a Jayhawk and as part of Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers prevail but this time there are some interesting and intriguing ingredients to be found in the mix.
The fact that Beto Hale discovered the Beatles at a young and impressionable age is indelibly woven into the heart of this album.
If you didn’t know that Dr Buzzworm hailed from the West Coast of America, you could take an educated guess based on listening to this one song.
The music seems, on the first few listens at least, to be drifting and free form, although it is actually more focused and defined than that, and it is this minimalist and cinematic approach which puts it in a similar musical ball park to the likes of Bowie’s exotically esoteric Berlin years or Japan’s icy detachment.
Outcasts manages to combine compelling, slow dance grooves, hypnotic electronica and a dark lyricism which not only speaks to the fractured and contested issues surrounding the identity problems of modern society but also echoes her own place running at a tangent to the mainstream.