The 90s undeniably shaped and changed the face of music forever. The creation of grunge and the innovations in sound have influenced music all over the world, and the importance of that decade can still be seen in music released almost thirty years later. Social Hysteria, an alternative rock trio from the Ontario capital of Toronto, and their latest release, Strange Way of Life, is a testament to the influential nature of that crazy decade.
“The Other Side,” the first song on the six-song album, is a simple piece. It showcases a deep, prominent bass throughout, a nicely executed little guitar solo at the halfway mark, and is sprinkled with soft vocals done by singer and guitarist, George Lopes. The song sounds like the first original song from a Dave Matthews Band cover act who didn’t want to stray too far from their roots. I thought I knew what I was in for after the first song, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was mostly wrong. One thing that threw me off greatly was the versatility of the singer’s vocals. Two parts Dave Matthews, one part >Daniel Johns, with just a dash of Scott Weiland… it’s a 90s rock wet dream. The second track on Strange Way of Life, “Figure It Out,” starts off in the same Dave Matthews Band fashion as the previous, with the understated rhythm of the guitar a little more present. The hook is catchy, but up until that point, the album is nothing to write home about.
It’s at the start of the third track that I began thinking that the album was not just a run-of-the-mill alternative album. With a heavier, fuzzier guitar starting off the song, the use of the distant echoed vocal technique (made popular by Stone Temple Pilots), and a more valiant vocal effort, “Fine Serpentine” sounds like something that would have played between Moist, and The Age of Electric in 1998 on Much Music. The following track, “Satellites Were Our Stars,” is entirely different from everything offered by the band up to that point. Fast tempo-ed, cymbal-heavy, harsh vocals; it seems out of place, yet the times where Lopes uses his naturally melodic voice add that little something, and it brings it all together.
Of course, no rock album would be complete without the ballad, and Social Hysteria makes a good go at it with “Glorious Day.” It is sure to pluck at the heartstrings of the lonely, the lovestruck, and the broken hearted with the use of the ever-so-relatable line, “maybe you don’t want me to want you.” To top off the release, Social Hysteria presents “Old School,” another fast track with some almost-punk elements that surprised me. It’s got a hook that repeats the same five words over and over again, ensuring that it gets burnt in your brain so you can’t get it out of your head for days.
The drumming is good with nice with noticeable cymbal usage all the way through, the guitar and vocals are ever-changing to keep you guessing, and the bass of Alex Lopes throughout the entire album is absolutely flawless. Strange Way of Life is an excellent, mellifluous alternative rock album that is sure to keep you guessing and entertained.
Written By Kai Robidas
*edited by Danielle Kenedy