The desire for inspiration tends to leave some artists trying crazy and crazier things left and right, but this can’t be said of Kane Strang. After his stint with the German music industry, the New Zealand native returns home for the exciting opportunity of housesitting for his parents. Staying alone, many songs on his debut album Blue Cheese reflect on the sort of isolation he experiences. This is hardly an inspirational norm for pop music, but Strang makes it work by incorporating a psychedelic feel to the album.
Placing himself in an arena dominated by Tame Impala, Strang proves a notable contemporary with his woozy, pop-centric addition to the genre, especially for how new he is to the game. For the most part, the music on this album is relaxed due to the reverbed guitars and simple repetitions. Strang must know a thing or two about momentum though, as he works hard to not get too complacent in the haze. He always makes sure something is driving the music along whether it be the percussion or the bass or the vocals. This doesn’t detract from the chilled atmosphere that Strang sets up, and when everything comes together just right, the music feels not only like a lazy day, but one where there’s still plenty to get out of life.
The songs that most acutely fit this description tend to be the best on the album, which pretty much describe the opening tracks. “The Web” is an interesting take on the the confines between technology and the real world in regards to communication. “The Canyon Her River Carved” relays the pain of only being able to force out small talk when you have so much more to say, imitating the shallowness of it all in his vocal inflections. This theme of liking someone but being paralyzed when it comes to making a move is omnipresent on the album, though it never succeeds quite as much as it does here.
On “She’s Appealing”, he calls the object of his affection “misleading”, although he previously admits “She’s so wonderful / I’ve never told her why”, making it sound like she’s leading him on when he’s the one being withholding. Blander takes “It’s Fine” and “You Think” take a similar dip in quality, but this time the music is what suffers, sounding more like filler than being of any necessity to the album. “Never Kissed a Blonde” seems less like filler and more like a plain misfire. It sounds like a shallow and misogynistic assessment of Strang’s love life. While I found out through a Noisey interview that it’s a sarcastic song based off of something dumb he heard in a bar, I doubt most listeners are going to take this extra step unless all of his fans are writing Blue Cheese reviews.
These musical faults would be easier to overlook if they weren’t so concentrated near the end. However, Strang picks the pace back up just in time for the closer “Scarlett King Magnolia” and even with these faults, a good portion of the album remains an effective display of Strang’s many talents. Even though he’s a relatively new face in the music business, the album sounds sophisticated and fresh. It makes for a great album, and it’s a good indicator that Strang will be around for a long time.