British rock quintet Familiar Looking Strangers seem to be keenly aware of the musical shadow cast by their hometown of Liverpool, and with the exception of one band member’s questionable haircut, they are careful to draw no obvious comparisons on their eponymous debut. Familiar Looking Strangers is an EP filled with British pop sensibility but heavily influenced by musical strands rooted in American tradition, such as heartland rock, blues, Americana, and Southern rock.
Despite a duration of only five songs, there is a fair amount of diversity in the tracklist. The EP opens up with “State Of Mind,” a ringing, jubilant piece with a distinctively British guitar tone, but with a melodic sway and an energetic vibe reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen. The following track, “The Game,” follows in a similar direction, but with more emphasis on Americana and roots rock in the vein of Tom Petty, complemented by lead guitar curiously meddling alternative rock with a sliding country lick. The next two tracks, “Saturday Night” and “Is It Going To Bleed,” push forward as two standalone blues rockers with a prowling mood and a strong Southern vibe. Closing the record with “Anytime You Like,” a crossbreed of infectious Britpop hooks and a soulful heartland melody, the band culminates their creative effort by leaving minimal traces of their influences, and crafting a unique sound that carries the flag for this record’s stylistic direction.
Familiar Looking Strangers is a curious and unexpected British project, drawing plenty of noticeable influence without sounding banal or predictable. Music that probably won’t please most people following the modern trends of rock, but great new material for a more mature audience dying to get back into their skinny jeans and reminiscing about their days listening to The Boss while making memories in the back of their first car.