Album Review: Not Inside Your Mind | Echo Strike
Echo Strike, hit the Sanctum some time ago with their ‘Dirty Clean Sexy Mean’ album, a modern pop/rock/electronic piece with multiple interventions of funk, disco and even jazz elements. All that successfully bred into a balanced, effortlessly pleasurable LP.
This happened in 2021 on top of the re-release of their Deluxe ‘Not Inside Your Mind’ which offers a couple of extra treats. So let’s have some fun and get deeper here…
Randy’s voice opens the curtain singing ‘You see me running away, you wonder what is scaring me today’ with his signature vocal effects, some kind of light Vocoder/Auto-tune blend. On the other hand, the instrumental seems more organic and rock-oriented, percussion and guitar-wise, and that’s a contrast you’ll always find Echo Strike playing with. If ‘Catch Me’ represents what is following, we are dealing with a contemporary-vintage pop/rock experience.
Indeed, ‘Give It A Try’ walks on the same path, a bit more stomping with a thumping kick that is softened by some dreamy keys here and there. And then I feel the music flirting with me, a specific synth blinking right at me the moment ‘Like Candy’ starts tickling my ears. The lyrics complete the mood ‘I'm like candy, I taste so sweet, you can't handle me’. Then we have ‘Just Fly’, a -light as a feather- track that sounds like an open space, an anticipation for something to come. And here we are, four minutes later, feeling the waterworks turning on with Randy singing ‘Let It Shine’ over mesmerizing piano. A ballad about breaking free and risking in order to follow our heart and move forward. The words ‘Your dreams are going to be defined, It’s time to break the ties that bind’ combined with the piano may break you if they hit you during a phase of uncertainty and self-doubt. My personal highlight until now and an affirmation of my previous statement about ‘Just Fly’ leaving space for something special. Told ya!
I immediately responded to the track ‘You’ talking to myself like: ‘Yes Randy, rock that Country phlegm of yours!’. Echo Strike’s frontman performs in a Country manner, so subtle that it’s blended with his overall rock vocal style. A fine detail that might be missed by 90% of their audience. ‘It’s Alright’ acts like a second ballad, on the powerful side instead of vulnerable. It’s a point where the lyrics start taking a striking character and ‘Revisionist’ is adding to this with its stinging chorus ‘Don't try to be slick, you know what you did, I can't for get how you got your kicks, Now I got to come to grips with all of this’. We all need a good vengeance track now and then, don’t we?
‘Dig In’ showcases the heaviest electronic elements we’ve seen so far and they are just what the track needed to stand out and maybe even be remembered for. We also witness Randy’s falsetto which was kind of a surprise and somehow reminded me of Marina’s signature falsetto.
Now is a good moment to say that, until now, the sound is strictly pop/rock driven unlike ‘Dirty Clean Sexy Mean’ which incorporated multiple genres harmonically co-existing. Moving on to ‘All The Way’ which is definitely a brother of ‘Just Fly’ for its lyrics and carefreeness, giving its place to the fast-paced, dark tune called ‘The Search’. It’s noticeable that, the darkest song so far is placed here, near the end of the album, just like ‘Demons’, the dark anthem of their previously reviewed LP. Like a secret pattern. Also, throughout this album I somehow get a 90’s vibe, which I call ‘the innocent pop/rock era’ and ‘The Search’ opens with percussion that was all over the 90’s RnB music scene. ‘Perception’ is a self-reflection track, empowering and liberating ‘Look at me I crossed the line, it’s not such a wicked crime’, thematically similar to ‘Let It Shine’. Then we have ‘Go’ giving the main role to Randy’s harmonizing as well as an -almost crying- guitar, while ‘Quicksand’ offers a low bass that was literally needed after 13 songs without any!
The closing track’s opening sounds like another dark moment of Echo Strike, but it’s actually poised by the brighter instrumental of an ‘awakened’ chorus 'We’re all alone like a rolling stone – Don’t you know how the story goes into the unknown?’ ‘Rolling Stone’ is neither happy nor sad for an album ending but a bittersweet one instead. Enough to remind me of ‘A World Alone’, the closing track of Lorde’s debut ‘Pure Heroine’. It’s the exact same energy here.
As always, Echo Strike follow their own path in the fields of pop/rock/electronic, staying away from all the clichés of today’s industry standards, all gimmickries, and yet making music that is clearly for everyone regardless of genre affinities. They sound like something old and new at the same time. Like the 90’s-00’s were disguised in a modern outfit to claim their place in today’s scene. ‘Not Inside Your Mind’ sounds as romantic as the music era before the internet and Echo Strike is among the bands that stand proud, unspoiled and loyal to their vision.