after two years of blood, sweat and blisters on their fingers, black lab’s fourth album is here.
stripping away some of the gloss from previous efforts, two strangers is, in some places, more basic and straightforward than anything the band has done in years, breaking it all down to songs, guitars & drums. in other places, it is more lush — with a full orchestra, choir, piano and organ at play. in either case, the tracks are extremely focused, with Paul’s keen descriptions and melodies interwoven with Andy’s crisp guitar work.
two strangers is both deeper in feeling and more neutral in observation than anything the band has ever done. all the black lab touches are there — cutting lyrics and big vocal moments, bitter-sweet melodies that stick in your head, heavy guitars and dynamic leaps of sound and emotion, ballads full of longing and resolve. Andy plays like a man possessed, driving each riff and change down the middle of the songs, anchoring and binding and decorating until they pop out in 3D. Paul digs in to what he wants to say, never settling until the words and melody, the story and arc slide perfectly into place. his voice has never sounded as rough, powerful or as beautiful.
with Isaac Carpenter playing drums on many of the tracks, the songs swing from vulnerability to devotion, from confession to dissection, from cold-wave desperation to indie-pop celebration to post-grunge thrust. as always, each song is a distinct chapter while serving to tell a story as only an album can.