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The Strays

A mere ten seconds into the opening track, "Geneva Code," the Strays' debut sounds like it'll be an album's worth of Arctic Monkeys/Bloc Party rip-offs. Then the vocals start, and Nirvana gets thrown into the mix. And while the second track, "Block Alarm," invites the obvious Bloc Party reference, it's mostly in the title. The reggae-style guitar and dubbed-out vocals prove that the Strays' roots predate their contemporaries. But those roots don't begin and end with Sandinista-era Clash; the Strays can get down with straight-up, non-angular rock ("You Are the Evolution") and even a bit of psychedelia (mostly as an added flavor, though). True, the album has its moments of generic dance-punk riffs ("Peach Acid") and Liam Gallagher-sounding vocals (again, "Peach Acid"), but it's not enough to write off the Strays as another member of the Arctic Bloc. Let's just hope that on the next album, frontman Toby Marriott draws more inspiration from his dad, the late Steve Marriott (of Small Faces/Humble Pie fame). Now that's a lineage worth preserving.

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