Strange Advance

The Distance Between

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After two successful albums (in their homeland, at least) filled with top-notch synth pop/new wave gems, one would understand if Canadian duo Strange Advance let their guard down a bit and released a less-than-perfect third album. Most bands can't keep up the quality control for ONE album, let alone three, right? Fortunately, this, their final album, was their best yet, filled with melodic and moody songs filled with expert musicianship and impassioned vocals. Bandmembers Darryl Kromm (vocals/guitar) and Drew Arnott (keyboards/vocals/production) create aural cotton candy with guts, straddling the line between AOR (without the crappy, sappy songs and big hair) and synth pop with substance. Imagine how Ultravox would've sounded had they made an album immediately after Lament but well before their rockier final album U-Vox. There is no pretentious "new romantic" vibe here, though. Arnott's keyboards create atmosphere and feeling, while Kromm's vocals and guitar fill in any empty space and reiterate that feeling. Practically any track here could've been a hit single, including the driving "Hold You," the quirky "Till the Stars Fall," the pure pop of "Love Becomes Electric" and "Love Is Strange," the thought-provoking "Who Lives Next Door," or the grandiose album-closer "Alien Time." There's nothing false or insincere about Strange Advance, which may have ultimately been their downfall, because you can't sail a ship successfully with two headstrong captains on deck, can you? A near-perfect album that may not be considered a classic by the record-buying public, but is still as classic and classy as they come.

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