On their debut full-length album Adult Themes, the Oakland-area group Strangelight performs fist-pumping, chest-rattling, noisy post-hardcore that feels infused with electrifying energy, and the confrontational hoarseness and dynamic swings in the music make the experience feel personal and urgent.
Hitting play on the record feels like getting instantly transported to a sweat-infused, venue-shaking live performance at which the crowd moves in tandem with the angular energy of the music. The music feels rather melody-centric, and for all their table-overturning energy, the songs aren’t unwieldy — instead, the experience feels perfectly orchestrated to deliver a jolt to the chest. The music’s grounding in a rather lush, thick-toned blanket of instrumentation enriches the experience rather poignantly, and the immersive atmosphere of rattling riffs makes the music feel like it’s metaphorically permeating the skin.
The bellicose rhythms themselves feel like they’re shaking their fists at listeners, beckoning observers to jump in for the ride. Every element feels hard-hitting, with a molassesy thickness that sweeps bystanders into the electrified malaise. The basslines are swampy, like sonic quicksand; the guitar rhythms chomp at listeners with full mouths of musical teeth; and the avalanche of drum rhythms keeps the progression through the album feeling like a bumpy car ride through swampland.
Across many of the often frenzied rhythms, Strangelight’s music carries a rather hardcore tone. Track two — “Digressions from Sierra Leone” — packs some rather cacophonous rhythms, while follow-up track “Start Breaking Down” repeatedly sinks into a sweltering, fist-shaking bassline. The rich dynamic variation goes on — “Object Permanence” spotlights a sonic fire hose of noisy post-hardcore riffing, while “Walks Into A Bar” introduces some more breathability into the clawed-back mix, spotlighting a sense of desperation. The rhythms feel gut-lurching, like staggering around with the weight of mental turmoil to escape. Although the abrasive texture never totally vanishes, some of the more breathable portions — like “Gold Rolex” — carry a kind of dark post-punk vibe, with a pulsating melodic core that feels ominously off-kilter, as if the music carries creeping clouds of tension.
Listening to Adult Themes feels like stagediving into an energetic yet intimate crowd over and over again. The stream of reverberating, roaring energy that streaks across the record feels invigorating, and there’s a real catharsis in the coarse persistence of the energy. The record feels anthemic.
Listen to Adult Themes below!