Sex With Strangers - The Tokyo Steel
Record Label: Catapult
Release Date: October 20, 2009
Sex with strangers (the act) is typically exciting, but usually unrewarding. Sex With Strangers (the band) is of a similar bent, the type of immediate pleasure that makes their music a suitable soundtrack for the sort of dimly lit locale that gives rise to the type of bacchanalian endeavor suggested in their moniker. Their third release The Tokyo Steel follows their EP A Future Tragedy and LP Modern Seduction, and it would find them comfortable alongside the electronic and dance-oriented bands on a label like Metropolis, and to a lesser extent Astralwerks.
Canada doesn't seem like a prime breeding ground for their type of music (which they call "robot rock"), but Sex With Strangers hail from Vancouver, British Columbia, and create mostly enjoyable music of the keyboard-and-guitar variety. Occasionally, their sound seems to match up with their self-proclaimed genre, as "We Want the Fire" and "We Are the Ones" deliver some fun, mechanized vocal effects. Mostly though, the vocals are very much human in nature-- on the title track, singer Hatch Benedict carries a similar steely malevolence to many a '00s post-punk singer channeling their '80s New Wave forebears (Brent Messenger of Every Move a Picture comes to mind immediately); on the single "New City Anthem" (a piss-poor choice, by the way), he's more along the lines of some cheesy prog-rock vocalist; on "The Dawn of Sexy", it's hard not to hear a little Trent Reznor.
When Benedict delivers the too-predictable lyric, "Let's go out dancing, everybody's in denial here," on "(The Part Where You) Surrender", he probably deserves any eye-rolls he gets, but it's hard to deny the surface entertainment value of his band's songs (of which "Surrender" is one of the best). Although it's very much comparable to recent releases by The Bravery and Editors and their modern take on New Order, it's superior in execution, as it's not as obnoxious as the former and not as boring as the latter. As a whole, the record probably lacks replay value, but fans of '80s revivalism will undoubtedly find a track or two to latch onto.