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There is a bar in Derby, across the road from the train station, where I spent many of my teenage evenings going to gigs in the cramped and sweaty venue in the back. It was in that bar that I first saw The Struts perform five years ago and I've been following their careers ever since. They will always be a band that is especially close to my heart for so many reasons, which is why when I first heard their latest single 'Body Talks' I just felt immensely proud of how far they've come.
Their second studio album, which is out now, is called 'Young and Dangerous' and I love it. I remember the release of their first album like it was yesterday and being slightly underwhelmed that the energy and ferocity of their live performances didn't quite translate to the studio album. Now, I'm yet to see them play the new album live, but from the first listen through it immediately captures the essence that they exude in person; it's youthful, energetic, good old-fashioned rock and roll.
The album both opens and closes with 'Body Talks', the first version being their solo release, and the second version featuring Kesha. The song itself plays like an instant classic and reminds me of great British rock bands like The Who and The Rolling Stones. The version with Kesha is even better. She has a fantastic voice, and I love hearing her on something with more of a rock vibe because it really shows off the talent and range that she has. Her vocals really compliment those of Struts frontman Luke, and it really is a fantastic collaboration.
I find that most albums have some songs that stand out more than others and some songs that fade into the background a bit. This is not the case with 'Young and Dangerous'. Every single song on this album makes me want to dance and sing along. Every time I listen to it my favourite song changes; right now, I think it's track three, 'In Love With The Camera', but that will inevitably change by tomorrow. It's the kind of song that will lend itself to live performance, and it's got such a great structure and rhythm. The lyrics are current, but it also has a timeless vibe to it.
'Who Am I' is another of my favourites on the album, bringing a little more funk and soul to the group's distinctive rock and roll sound. I can definitely hear the influence of Michael Jackson in the introduction and verses on this, but it's unmistakably The Struts sound and I could honestly play it on repeat for hours. 'People' is an anthemic and uplifting offering, 'Somebody New' is a classic rock ballad for the modern era, and 'I Do It So Well' brings a hint of punk vibes to the table. The penultimate track 'Ashes (part 2)' ends with a distinct nod to The Who as it fades out into the reprisal of 'Body Talks'.
The album is modern and retro, sexy and youthful, and full of absolute headbangers. This is what rock and roll should sound like, and I feel like I haven't heard anything new like this in far too long!
Each song is so distinctly different, but The Struts have really defined their sound with this album and established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. This album is uplifting and fun; the days of emo phases and pop punk are well and truly behind us as Luke, Adam, Jedd, and Gethin hail a new era of inspiring and empowering rock for a generation of proud weirdos. As Luke sings on 'Fire (Part 1): 'young and dangerous, nothing can change us'!