Beneath the veneer of festival-hopping, food truck culture and the dearly departed features from NME, the post-punk presence is still a surly mess of wool knit caps and beards accompanied by Bach-level fascination with strings. Strange Culprits take on the sometimes esoteric boundaries of the scene following punk in the self-titled release, proving a natural gravitation towards Americana of all sorts. With canned vocals, chunky instrumentation and lo-fi production when necessary, Strange Culprits embodies a scene that hasn’t found a way to alienate itself or its listeners.
Holding on to a thoroughly classic Bay Area sound works well for Strange Culprits, granting some recognition to an otherwise familiar sound and friendly-looking group of youngish people. Although a track such as “Moonlight” may be more indicative of folks drifting towards honky tonks, it’s still a fuzzy enough sound to land the squad astride Frank Black and the like. The majority of the record plays out similarly to this format; a comfortably paralyzed vernacular in which an outgoing band continues to rave on with material consisting of 90s nostalgia. The latter may sound like a slam in any other context, but in the case of Strange Culprits its an immediate draw, making parallels between bretheren of the Gulf War era rock and a more naturalized sound of the now.
To be “post-punk” in an era where the decade is narrowly set to end in “-20” comes off as oxymoronic. However, the materials in which the genre of post-punk experiences on a regular basis creates an almost more confusing divide – post-punk and alt-post-punk. The latest album Strange Culprits falls into the alternative camp with their record, experimenting with electronic music and non-traditional, ballad-like instrumentation rather than strictly following a series of effects pedals. The band wide-ranging in style as has the genre followed suit in this sense. Strange Culprits is an excellent example in the representation of the shift of focus within such a sece.