Dunedin’s Kane Strang has been creating well-crafted melodic pop/rock songs for a number of years, slowly building a repertoire and reputation.
This second album ups the ante a fair bit, with hook-filled vocal lines, and ‘90s guitar-driven alt-rock riffs and phrasing pointing to a slightly heavier musical direction than that used on last year’s first album ‘Blue Cheese’.
Strang is no second-rate lyricist either, with deft turns of phrase and stories of romantic angst populating his songs.
Single My Smile Is Extinct wraps a sad tale of morbid, miserable post-breakup thoughts in a gorgeous, catchy chorus.
The contrast between bright melody lines and emotionally dark lyrics appears throughout, with Not Quite’s cheery admission of being “not quite… alright,” undercutting the anthemic tone of the song.
Strang’s move to well-known US indie label Dead Oceans (also home to Marlon Williams) after the release of ‘Blue Cheese’ is reflected in the alt-pop/rock sheen of ‘Two Hearts And No Brain.’ The album expands on his earlier recordings, with subtle determination and ambition coming through in the considered sonic references, and the hooks that appear throughout. The album is a fantastic vehicle to take Strang’s musical talents to a far wider audience, positioning him as a serious contender. • Amanda Mills