Steal My Horses and Run
Sweden’s Blackstrap beg the question of how many iterations of Scandinavian garage rock the listening public is able to stand. It’s been eight years since The (International) Noise Conspiracy and The Hives broke in the international consciousness and those groups and their second-tier brethren have mostly faded into obscurity or only put out albums once in a great while. It’s not exactly a welcoming climate that Blackstrap is stepping into with tracks like the strutting “Winning Speech” — it’s the kind of redundancy one expects to hear plastering the background of an iPod commercial. The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club aping of “Lay Down Low” isn’t the most endearing turn either.
When the group turns toward their more psychedelic tendencies and sloughs off the attitude for warmer, joyous textures as on “Rough Parade” and the exquisite “The Bitter, The Sweet,” the epic guitar fuzz and singer Maria Linden’s breathy vocals take some well-worth-it cues from shoegaze greats Lush and Jesus and Mary Chain. Unfortunately these tracks are the detours on the album, when they should be the thruway. Hopefully with their next go-around Blackstrap will feel more inclined to ditch the leather and grime for something more honey-kissed.