Since their inception in 2012, Baby Strange have become the revered heroes of Glasgow’s music scene. Known for their raucous and rowdy live shows, the trio have achieved almost cult status through their constant touring and dedicated fanbase. Johnny Madden (vocals/guitar), Aidan McCann (bass) and Connaire McCann (drums) have backed this up with a constant stream of tracks over the years, which have never left either fans or critics disappointed. This immense graft has reached its inevitable resolution, with the Glaswegian indie punks now releasing their debut record Want It Need It. But does it live up to the wait?
Fan favourite Pure Evil begins the album and, after all these years, it still sounds as wicked and malevolent as it did back in 2013. Benefiting from being re-recorded for the album, Pure Evil’s opening riff is unforgiving and cuts into you deep. The bass from Aidan is angsty and captures the magic of Baby Strange’s live shows. Throughout the chorus Madden sings “Ooh ah, tired of my generation. Ooh ah, I only wanna be alone. Ooh ah, I’m tired of my own throne.” This is the perfect example of Baby Strange doing what they do best, writing lyrics that are begging to be chanted at the top of your lungs. Pure Evil’s chorus is so infectiously catchy and it is just the beginning of the trio showcasing their incredible songwriting capabilities.
With great group vocals and the urgency of a band who want to conquer the world, Nude is a perfect slice of traditional punk that harkens back to the early days of The Clash. This is then followed by 2015 single Pleasure City. A swaggering ballad that is topped off with a sweltering guitar solo that invokes uncontrollable hysteria.
California Sun is a shimmering piece of west coast garage rock. Madden croons about how he’s had his heart broken into two, whilst the sun-drenched melodies glow with ambition and prosperity. Then juxtaposed by the sultry VVV, Baby Strange turn into this threatening goliath. Carried along by an imposing and gooey bassline, McCann dominates the track as he looms over you like a nightmare that can’t be shook. Documenting someone who is in a relationship where their partner “just violates me” but also makes them “feel so high from this”, VVV is one the LP’s most interesting songs lyrically. Reassuring themselves that they’re “not sick, i’m just trying to find my new thrill”, VVV is a track that is worth taking some time to think about and dissect.
Another track that has gone under the re-recording treatment is Friend. With fuzzed out vocals , Friend comes and goes before you know it. Raw and bloody, Friend is Baby Strange at their purest and it’s fucking fantastic. Next is Trouble, another Baby Strange classic. A mix of early 2000s nostalgia and Baby Strange’s bite and prowess, this post-punk revival track is flat out fun and totally compelling.
2014 release Distance Yourself makes it onto the album, and what an addition it is. Madden’s guitar wails like it’s possessed, whilst the McCann brothers build the song’s minacious foundations. The choruses are rapturous, as Madden sings “They try to take our night, they try to take our fun”, which leads into the frenzied finale. Electrifying and hectic, Distance Yourself is one of Baby Strange’s best.
Human, a standout moment on the tracklisting, sees Baby Strange with their most driven and developed track to date. The chorus is anthemic and is ready built for big venues. Alternatively, the track’s intensity will excel in the small and sweaty boxes that Baby Strange have come accustomed to. In their four years of being together, Human really shows how far Baby Strange have come along as a band.
Finishing on the title track Want It Need It, Baby Strange close the album in classic punk fashion. Claustrophobic and fierce, Want It Need It bullies you into submission. As Madden sings about drugs and how “this comedown is messing up my head”, drummer Connaire performs with such power and momentum that it totally exhausts you. With abrasive guitar and an unapologetically mean bass, Want It Need It perfectly ends the album with deranged pandemonium.
Coming in at just under 30 minutes, Baby Strange have done something truly remarkable on Want It Need It. It’s an album where every track has earned its rightful place and all ache to be heard. It’s a tour de force of indie fused punk that gets everything right. One of the finest and most well deserved albums of 2016, exciting times lay ahead for Baby Strange.