The problem for Straylings is that they’ve made a perfectly pleasant record. It’s listenable, and enjoyable, but not entirely memorable. And in reality that’s a disappointment, because on paper all the elements are there for a great record. Dana Zera has faced the inevitable comparisons with other female singers rather well, from Karen O – who she is eerily close too on The Saguaro – to Stevie Nicks and Florence Welch across the majority of the album, with occasional forays towards Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Lana Del Rey. While that may sound like a heck of a lot, it’s only that easy to dissect the vocals because they stand out so much more than anything else.
Like I’ve said all the elements are there, but not across the whole album. Americana styled guitars underpin the majority of songs, but it’s the occasional heavier guitar riffs that are more interesting and innovative. Unfortunately they all too soon dissipate or disappear, somewhat robbing the album of momentum.
Whether it was the band or their producer’s choice, there seems to have been the conclusion that Zera needs to be the dominant force on all tracks. The Unravelling of Mr Ed is absolutely fantastic in its instrumental sections, full of sharp guitars and drums of slowly increasing intensity, but the vocals sweep all this aside and dominate, when it would be much better if they were a little bit more toned down.
In essence, the reason that Entertainment on Foreign Grounds is disappointing is not because it’s a poor record, but because it doesn’t live up to the potential that is evidently there. A tighter second album is most definitely possible, and I hope that it comes; otherwise Straylings may become another band who falls by the wayside, despite their obvious potential.