April 3, 2003

Test Spin: Stratford 4

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All bands should have a motto, and The Stratford 4’s motto should be this: “The Stratford 4 — Another Shitty Post-Punk Band.” Well, maybe that’s too harsh. Their latest album, Love & Distortion, is technically adept. Reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine and Yo La Tengo, the band creates a strong melodic foundation based on mathematical guitar work and driving bass lines. Singer Chris Streng’s throaty vocals evoke Lou Reed, and blend well with the general tone of the instrumentals. On the whole, it was certainly a pleasant album to listen to.

But really, what’s the point? They sound no different than a thousand other indie-rock bands who think they’re innovative because they’ve discovered the wonders of the Moog synthesizer. “Don’t you get it?” They probably say. “We’re blending machines and music! Together! Don’t you get it?” Yeah, I get it, and I’ve got it about a thousand times before, too. Does the world really need another lame, moody post-punk band, playing their sonically repetitious songs and looking all emaciated and thrifty on the album cover? Why waste your money on something like The Stratford 4 when there are so many other, more original bands to discover? Even if post-punk is your thing, why not just buy the Interpol record instead? Love & Distortion is competent and pleasing to listen to, but lyrically embarrassing and totally unnecessary. In the song “Telephone,” Chris Streng seems to realize this, name-dropping his influences and singing “There’s more to life than The Stratford 4.” There sure is.

Archived article by Justin Peters