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Album Review: Strange Talk - Cast Away

29 January 2013 | 12:00 pm | Andrew McDonald

The album does fall into its groove a little too quickly, and certain songs (Visions) aren’t needed at all, so the 45-minute effort does manage to somehow feel overlong.

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The four Melbourne lads making up electro-pop vandals Strange Talk dropped their self-titled EP in 2011 and the lush '80s synth driven sounds were impressive enough over a short release; but how does a full length hold up?

Cast Away opens boldly enough, with the powerful and dance-ready title track. The following Falling In Love hit similar moods; both positive without being saccharine, '80s influenced without sounding naff. The constant Roland D-50 styled backing keyboard tones hold these early tracks together wonderfully, and the unapologetically artificial drum beats aren't too clipped or intrusive. These elements, combined with the funky up-and-down-the-keyboard solos and grooves, and soaring, almost feminine vocals, will win fans over immediately and joyfully.

Not sticking to strict 'neat' synths, the band employs a synthetic string loop on album highlight So So La La; it really shows off their clever approach to production and sonic landscape creation. The lyrics rarely paint a picture quite worthy enough to fill the frames the bright music gives them, but their processed nature allows them to fall into place inauspiciously enough.

Strangely, a fair touchstone would be French indie rockers Phoenix. If they were to truly embrace their electronic bent, they might nail sound as well as Strange Talk does.

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The album does fall into its groove a little too quickly, and certain songs (Visions) aren't needed at all, so the 45-minute effort does manage to somehow feel overlong. Take Cast Away as a pledge for what the band stands for or a promise of what they're capable of in the future, and it's better than it may be in reality; a catchy enough, very well done (if oddly generic) synth pop record.