With their new EP Fear of Loathing, Harrogate rock band Strangers in Paradise have made a quantum leap from their previous recordings..
The reconfigured four-piece’s more straightforward approach pays off handsomely on these four superb tracks masterfully produced and co-arranged at Harrogate’s Warehouse Recording Co by Dan Mizen with a winning blend of fizz and sophistication.
It’s partly that new vocalist Adam Tait brings a grizzled, soulful focus to the previous instrumental muscle exhibited by original members Steve Mosby (lead guitar), Andy Mosby (bass) and Andrew Schofield (drums).
But it’s equally down to ace guitarist Steve Mosby own decision to vacate vocal duties and rein in his own guitar pyrotechnics, as impressive as they always are.
Instead, those incredible, fluid, stately guitar lines now serve the songs which combine the crunch of rock with the melody of 70s New Wave.
Despite their new-found cohesion, SiP haven’t exactly reinvented the wheel.
A cursory few plays throws up words like “Foo Fighters” and “Red Hot Chilli Peppers”.
Listen longer to songs like the gloriously catchy title song Fear of Loathing or memorable closing power ballad Calamity Howler which glides towards a peak it sensibily refrains from ever reaching and there’s more going on, fuelled by a variety of more subtly displayed influences from punk to grunge to Queen.
Part of me still hankers for the old three-piece and its impossible mission to produce a new alchemy from a mix of Led Zeppelin, Mars Volta, modern soul and rap, even though, perhaps, it never totally gelled.
But if the end result of this change of direction is so brilliant, well, who really cares.
SiP is dead, Long live SiP.