Context is everything. When Strangers In Paradise released The Story part 1 in early 2012 nobody was sure whether or not this was simply a side project for the Mosby brothers while D’Nile took a break. Steve Mosby was already established as a key player on the Harrogate music scene with a reputation as a guitarist of the first order – but at the same time he was always a support player; first to Jonny Skinner in Revolv and then to Liam Gray in D’Nile. Could he cut it as a frontman?
Twelve months and a bit later a lot of these questions are answered. Readers of this blog will know that the Harrogate music scene has gone supernova with no less than four great bands in the ascendancy. Strangers In Paradise may not be the most attention seeking of the four but they’re arguably the ones leading the way; their first EP came out before they’d even played a gig and now – while their rivals haven’t got any further than soundcloud or youtube – they’ve made another.
Except that – with hindsight – The Story part 1 now sounds like the band making a few demos while getting to know each other. It feels very polite and civilised now. I’m sure we all know a few people who are very shy and self effacing at the start of the evening but after a few drinks they’re dancing topless in the middle of the club. Strangers In Paradise might well be that person – Part 1 was the start of the evening, Part 2 is the party well underway.
There’s six songs here; one short instrumental and one rap led track but which leaves four new songs proper. Everything is louder this time, everything hits that bit harder. Strangers In Paradise always sound like they’re cutting loose but at the same time everything is under control. They are like acrobats; there’s now safety net but they know what they’re doing.
It’s now obvious that to call Steve Mosby the frontman is slightly misleading. He is the dominant figure but Andy Mosby and David Williams are hardly support players. This is a group effort and it’s sometimes to believe that only three people are making this complex sound. The sonic effect is what impresses and it will take a few listens for the songs themselves to come into focus; the effort is of course well worth it. However the opening lines of Land Of Later On are pretty hard hitting (I won’t spoil the treat).
If there’s a criticism (and it’s hardly the bands fault) it’s that the EP doesn’t quite capture the excitement of seeing SiP live – Phoenix Odyssey which blew me away at The Alex seems a bit flat here by contrast.
The Story Part 2 is available from iplayatnight at a very reasonable £3 (less than a pint of beer). Here’s a link http://www.iplayatnight.com/iplay#albums/1/3 The site is not very user friendly and the download didn’t appear immediately – however the customer service was top notch. It will be necessary to do a bit of tweaking on Itunes to get the album properly in your library. However that’s a minor gripe.
PS – Fans of Strangers In Paradise will be aware that this EP marks the end of David Williams’ involvement with the band. However I am also told that a new drummer has been recruited and with a new mesh of personalities will come a slightly different sound. The Story Part 3 is already eagerly awaited.