The debut album from this Iowa-based quintet is a pleasingly messy, off-handedly hooky, and sprawlingly noisy exploration of pop sounds from the past 40 years, with an emphasis on skanky glam rock from the mid-'70s and a vocal style lifted directly from Robert Smith circa 1984. The Cure influence is felt especially heavily on "Before the Light," but the Beat Strings' sound derives from many other sources as well. You've got "Osiris," which starts out in a rather Clashy post-punk mode before collapsing into greasy Southern rock (which isn't quite as sloppy as it sounds on the surface); there's "Make Me a Message," which sounds strangely like a cabaret tune with its unsettling falsetto backing vocals; and then there's "Miss Lady," which is written in 4/4 but somehow manages to sound as if it were written in 7/8 (maybe it's those subtle snare taps falling on the far side of all the strong beats). The Beat Strings are romantic if you subscribe to the 19th century German school of romanticism, which favors sex and death in equal doses. If you subscribe to some other idea of romance, then you might just find them kind of weird and creepy. Either way, there's plenty to enjoy on this promising debut.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson