APES - Stranger Than Strangers

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Four years in the making, the Melbourne rock quartet deliver on the promise to explore the darker side of their pop-skewed indie rock sound. “Fourth Point” teases towards a thunderous erupt and howled hook, fittingly leading into the unhinged “Strange Tastes”, where Benjamin Dowd twists his vocals around the tall trees of the isolated setting imagined — sharply shifting from calm control to growled strain. Even when seemingly settled into a silky groove, such as with “Dimension” and soothing ballad, “Better”, an inevitable depth plunge is never off-menu, as both dive from their hopeful, confident positions into despairing collapse. While altogether denser with details than previous work, the darts and diversions is what makes Stranger Than Strangers such an enjoyable, and unpredictable, ride. Years of jammed sketches, clipped ideas and off-the-cuff experiments have been squeezed into the LP’s 11 tracks, with Dowd describing the recording process as “pretty unorthodox at a lot of different times and places throughout it.” This patchwork approach — that the singer adds “definitely rings true throughout the record”, as well as serving as mirror of the band’s own maturing (“we’ve grown a lot.. musically and as people”) — is never more evident than on swirling closer “It Is What Is Is”, which covers seven minutes and a multitude of movements from Girls-esque reflective haunts to thumping guitar-led indie rock to bare acoustic strums to all-in choirs of triumph. Effectively summarising the album itself — equally a display of youthful restlessness and a band unattached to external expectations.