The Shrouded Strangers

Lost Forever

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Returning to recording after numerous years away from studio work, the Shrouded Strangers' 2012 album was enjoyable if not deathless work, a variant on indie rock that showed little sign of slowing down. "Late Bloomer" starts the album on an easygoing but gently propulsive note, acoustic strum, piercing tremolo guitar, a steady drum stomp, and -- perhaps bemusingly -- rather distant, raspy vocals. "Featherbed" shifts to gently fuzzed-out shoegaze boogie in comparison, though, enjoyable if not really remarkable aside from a nicely scraggly solo, and from there the slight off-on feeling of Lost Forever makes its way forward, a mix of the precise and the slightly unstable. (Calling a song "How the Dead Butter Their Bread" could almost be asking for it, given the song's generally peppy whimsy in its first half -- though hearing it collapse away into an open-ended feedback wooze is another beast. Then there's "Black Tie White Atlas Shrugged," which might or might not be the only Ayn Rand/David Bowie referencing song if not necessarily tribute out there.) Sometimes the mix of extremes is within the same song: "(Don't Look at The) Pink Lightning" starts like a breezy enough acoustic-led singalong before twisting into a bright, exultant combination of drones and a much slower pace. The instrumental "Pyramid Points" does a good job at summing up the slightly blasted/slightly dreamy musical aesthetic of the band in two minutes, soft gaze-focused guitars shifting into a chiming melody. "Oilheart"'s glammish chug has high vocals even for this album, a kind of piercing cry, while the rougher stomp of "Drinking the Spider Silk" can and does turn on a dime into a slower sweet swoon at the end.

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