If Joy Division had an emotive range that extended beyond despair and melancholy they may have sounded a little bit like the Midnight Stroll. Dark-hued, but not entirely gloomy, it may be more fair to speak of the Austin duo in the context of other 80’s UK bands like the Jesus and the Mary Chain and the Wake–with a little bit of whirling guitar wails of early Cocteau Twins sprinkled on top. Listen to the first moments of their new record “Heartbreak Bugaloo” and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. Reverbed percussion and a thick bass line move like molasses beneath a longing synthesizer and a soaring electric guitar in the opening breath of the Midnight Stroll’s debut LP. But don’t get comfortable, as soon as the song harks back to some 80’s gothic shadows, Aaron Behren’s extravagantly flamboyant vocals descend into the mix–it’s about as far as one can get from the cool monotone that many of those UK vocalists preferred. There really is no neat comparison to Behren’s vocal style, but the only time on the record when one can safely liken his voice to another’s is on “Losing My Mind” where he, appropriately, sounds like a manic Robert Smith.
Behren’s magnetic histrionics may seem like it’d be the main ingredient to the group’s exciting sound, but it’s Jonas Wilson who concocts the universe that Behren thrives within. While Wilson often summons the colors of the darker side of post-punk, he brews a sound of his own through his intricate production, and furthermore, there are many moments of their new record that dive into soundscapes that some of his progenitors would have never considered.
Armed with an arsenal of analog synths, reel to reel tape machines, frenzied guitars, and poignant yet lighthearted lyrics, the Stroll are poised to release their sophomore album, “Western Static” in the fall of 2017. Keep your ears open for this Austin two-piece, they’re bringing something special to the airwaves.