Music Reviews

The Stratford 4

Love and Distortion


The title alone of each Stratford 4 release offers good insight into what this band is trying to do, musically and conceptually. Their debut, Revolt Against Tired Old Noise, signifies a deconstruction of tedious pop constructs. In their place, lush, dissonant opuses in the vein of My Bloody Valentine. Similarly, Love and Distortion tells tender stories of affection in an idiom of looping distortion. While the latter album, with its soaring guitars, layers of fuzz, hushed vocals and hints of psychedelic mind-fuckery, is a continuation of the band’s debut, it assumes a more poppy, less soporific feel than Revolt Against.

Love and Distortion opens with the loquacious tour-de-shoegazer-force “Where the Ocean Meets the Eye,” and concludes on a similar ethereal note with “Swim into It / I’m in the Moon.” In between, however, is an unrelenting barrage of pop-inflected tracks fraught with some pretty damn catchy hooks (think latter day Dinosaur Jr.), creating a sound very unlike that of last year’s Revolt Against. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are still looking for “the perfect” album to fill the void left by Kevin Shields and friends.

With this release, My Bloody Valentine (and the shoegazer thing as a whole) function more as a footnote than a dominant theme. The Stratford 4’s flirtation with pop sensibilities, filtered through a haze of scuzzy guitars and wispy vocals merely signifies the band’s maturation. While Love and Distortion falls a little short of the precedent set by Riot Against, it is not a bad album in the least. It is the kind of album that becomes more endearing with each listen, with each song evincing a gorgeousness missed the first time around.

Jetset Records:

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