The Midnight Stroll
Western Static (Skeleton Farm)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Feb. 2, 2018
Beats 'n' bleats from Aaron Behrens and Jonas Wilson take undeniable shape on the locals' sophomore full-length as the Midnight Stroll. Rudimentary rhythm tracks and overdubbed guitar lighting up first LP Heartbreak Bugaloo in 2016 proved as effectively moody and melancholic as a Queen demo. Western Static cements the band's amorphous identity: Ghostland Observatory singer meets his John Frusciante. An opening theme, connective sounds and samples, and liquid sequencing give it a distinct mixtape quality as underlined by second track "The World Keeps Counting," a Prince-like skitter from the vintage drum machine closet. Next, "Try" nails what could've been an All That You Can't Leave Behind-era U2 ballad and "Does It Get Any Better?" unleashes an uncanny Rocky Horror Picture Show outtake that elicits an instant volume boost with each successive play. "City Lights" is the pair's Gorillaz moment. Side two isn't nearly as bell-ringing – see the awkward cover of Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning" – but the effortlessly great "Sacrificial Bliss" finds Behrens back at the piano as Bono. By closing time, the no-budget clatter wears thin and the twosome's musical profile blurs, but you're hooked. Gone daddy gone.