London-based indie label Just Off Pop takes over The Victoria in Dalston, playing host to the STRANGERS’ launch party for their new single “Something New.” To look inside the crowded venue, nobody would imagine that this is a Monday night, but this is revealing of Strangers’ ability to draw in the crowd.
Self-professed as a ‘dark pop’ band, few descriptions could fit them better. A 1980s synth and electronic drum setup married with the melodic sensibilities of the more pained musical edge of the early noughties gives an indication of what to expect by description, but what the band deliver challenges those expectations.
Strangers get on stage at 9:15pm and there is a sense of accomplishment coming from the group. Joined by guest vocalist Ellie Fletcher of Crystal Fighters, whose soaring vocals on “Promises” are a standout moment in the set, the band are consistently hitting on an ideal combination of professionalism and passion. The crowd, a mixture of friends, fans and curious newcomers, are visibly enthralled, appreciative and supportive, smiling faces visible even under the moody, dim lighting. It’s dark pop music, but where Strangers surprises is in their ability to uplift a crowd, even while frontman David Maddox-Jones pines through melancholy lyrics like “All your words are meaningless” on the aforementioned “Promises.”
The band finishes on new single “Something New,” which gains a big reaction from everybody present. Strangers clearly take pride in their work, onstage and in the studio, and this celebration of the fruits of their labour feels like just that – a celebration of this band and their work. Maybe it’s the more electro aspect of their music, or perhaps it’s in the familiar ‘pop’ side of their sound that stirs the positivity visible in the crowd, but there is certainly something about Strangers that acts as a silver lining to their cloud of Depeche Mode-esque darkness, and with an accomplished, emotive sound like theirs, it’s not hard to imagine a whole lot more adulation on the horizon for this band.