It’s been four years since Boston duo Streight Angular was nominated for “Best New Band” at the Boston Music Awards. Even though they lost out to local rapper Moufy at the time, their lo-fi take on poppy post-punk earned them opening slots for national acts such as Peelander-Z, Minus the Bear, and Anamanaguchi. It’s no surprise, then, that their first proper full length, titled Messenger of Love, is a raw genre-bending trip that often settles on grungy garage rock but tests the outer limits of modern day electro indie.

On the record, lead singer and guitarist Yoshi Walsh explores parenthood and all of the unexpected transformations that occur while raising a child. While it may come off as mundane, Yoshi and his wife-turned-drummer Teresa take a darker, more psychedelic route that celebrates new life while still maneuvering through the depths of depression and existential dread.

The album’s first track, “Will Smith,”couples these everyday struggles with a playful post-punk theme introduced through a walking, buzzing bass line. Teresa’s delicate vocals cascade over the fuzz as she almost happily sings, “I never wanted this.” Later in the song, Yoshi wails and woahs as he tenaciously belts out choruses a la vintage Issac Brock of Modest Mouse fame. The seemingly sunny progression culminates in anguished screams of, “I don’t want to die!” and “What have I become?”As the music fades, the couple is heard comforting a crying baby, symbolic of their transition from individuals to parents.

Both “Will Smith” and the following track, the raucous blues-punk “Want Some More,” seem to establish the duo’s identity and sound. But as the album continues, the married couple challenges the listener’s expectations as they hop from grimy grunge, to British new wave, to a sloppy acoustic ballad thanking Jesus for the gift of alcohol.

Some of these experiments and risks pay off a lot more than others, with the soft acoustic “Mikayo” a refreshing surprise from the people who were screaming about death and suicide just minutes ago. The flitting recorders and various woodwinds make for a playful lullaby. However, outliers like “Still Moving” are more on the forgettable side, serving as interludes or digressions before the next longer song. This mixed bag isn’t always attention grabbing; it leads to a record that feels disjointed and scatterbrained at times.

The couple regains composure late in the record with brutally honest tracks like “Alright” and “Life Sucks and Then You Die,” the former featuring an infectious synth pop sing-song of, “I don’t love you and you don’t love me!” These tunes—a calculated balance between modern indie and classic punk rock aggression—might be Yoshi and Teresa’s best.

Although Messenger of Love could have been crafted with more focus, you have to respect the couple for their willingness to experiment with the unexpected. They certainly aren’t predictable. For a band that calls themselves Streight Angular, their music is anything but.

Album Review: Streight Angular - Messenger of Love
Pros
  • Impressive trip through a variety of genres and styles
  • When they lock into their raw post-punk sound, they're at their very best
  • Chemistry between the duo fuels some truly memorable sing-a-long choruses and riffs
Cons
  • Not every style visited is successful, making for a disjointed album
  • Jamming on a single riff sometimes drags on too long, getting repetitive quickly
  • Rough around the edges production has moments of sloppiness and awkwardness
7.3Overall Score

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.