While some artists lend a hand in resculpting the soundscape into something bold and completely reshaped, which often comes with rewarding and positive results, others fall short on trying to tamper with a song that either had already reached near-perfection, or took too much creative freedom and gave birth to something muddled with electronic sounds, such as is the case with Carly Rae Jepsen’s cover of ‘Shadow’.
The second single, Mountain at My Gates, opens itself with its primary guitar hook and central riff. As the song progresses the lyrics preach ‘I see a Mountain at my Gates; I see it more and more each day’, mirrored by the mountainous distortion and guitar at the end.. The soundscape places Philippakis’ vocals behind the instrumentation and bellowing over it, and brings the droning guitar riffs at the forefront.
Proving that their venture into a newer sound is not a loss for the same quality of music, Birch Tree is very much a track that could be placed in the middle of ‘Total Life Forever’. Full of hooks and high-toned, distortionless guitar that uses few chords and more picking, much like the aforementioned album. It also makes effective use of an echoing vocal style, plenty of groove in the bassline that is reminiscent of the band’s initial dance rock influence, and a subtle synthesizer.
The first four tracks are delivered with such massive force that could fairly nearly skyrocket Strange Desire to the ranks of a truly great album. One song after another is delivered with perfect accuracy, yet momentum is rapidly lost with tracks like “I’m Ready to Move On”, which is bizarre and unfitting. Still, Antonoff delivers a magnificent album that touches on real-life issues like relationships and depression. This album can’t be recommended enough, as its faults are more than made up for with qualities.