If this is the future of hard rock, it's certainly in good hands with the upbeat, party stylings of The Struts.
In a world in which hard rock is dominated in the charts by indie, pop, and rap, where do a band like The Struts fit in the current musical landscape? The answer is: wherever they want to. Since their platinum-certified debut single Could Have Been Me in 2014, the Derby four-piece have been at the forefront of a small glam-rock revival, mixings the stylings of Slade or Bowie with a modern pop edge.
While unfortunately not yet a massive deal in their home country, The Struts are quite a big deal in America, performing at Victoria’s Secret catwalks and guest starring on America’s Got Talent in recent years. Perhaps this will change with new single Too Good At Raising Hell, their second for Nashville-based label Big Machine. It’s quite possibly their best attempt at glam-pop-rock, proving exactly why they manage to avoid the trap of their music feeling tired or dated.
Opening with a sultry spoken-word verse from frontman Luke Spiller, this is accompanied by a swaggering bassline which creates a feel-good party atmosphere from the start. Spiller really makes you buy into his glamorous lifestyle in a way that only he can, yet this song is an evolution upon the “sex, drugs & rock’n’roll” themes of the band’s clear influences of KISS and Motley Crue. Instead, lyrically, the song touches upon how despite having “designer suits, Gucci gloves, [and]Chelsea boots’, Spiller is still ‘bored to death’, becoming disillusioned with the material consequences of fame and wealth.
This morphs into a bombastic chorus where the the band’s usual guitar sounds are relegated to the background in favour of a soaring brass section, giving the song a similar energy to a live perfromance – certainly a hard feat to accomplish in a studio recording. Perhaps this party-filled energy is at odds with the song’s lyrical content, but that’s what makes a band like The Struts stand out. For a band who gigged and grafted for many years before they hit the somewhat-big time, their charming sense of relatability is refreshing for glam rock. This is all topped off with a fun guitar solo from Adam Slack, not allowing himself to be completely overshadowed by the powers of brass, all working together like a machine’s cogs to create a proper modern rock anthem.
Will it be enough to catapult them into worldwide stardom? Perhaps not. But now they’ve moved away from the disappointing sophistipop sounds of 2020’s Strange Days, complete with a Robbie Williams collaboration, they’re clearly trying hard to bring a smattering of glam energy back to the UK mainstream.
Too Good At Raising Hell is out now via Big Machine, check out its lyric video here: