The band headed into the tail-end of 2016 riding on their dynamite single If You Want It, promising the world a debut album while they were at it. We’ve since grabbed our first listen to that album, a gem titled Stranger Than Strangers which hits shelves this Friday.
Spoiler: you’re in for a bloody treat.
Reinforcing their nice guy/superstar status, APES have delivered 11 tracks of high-end indie rock greatness on their debut long-play Stranger Than Strangers.
Stranger Than Strangers opens with Pull The Trigger, a tune which has been doing the rounds for two years now. With tight progressions, a ripper percussion track driving the song and the first of many great vocal hooks to come, it’s a perfect showcase of the LP’s bare bones.
Following suit is Filter, the latest single we’ve heard from the band. A slower than average number for APES, the song is a constant crescendo, rising slowly and surely like the fed-up anger it describes within the lyrics.
If You Want It hops in at track number three. This is, without a doubt, the song which had me hooked on APES last year. The chorus is viciously catchy without being overbearing, it’s the rare earworm I’m more than happy to have in my head for however long it sticks.
Thus closes the LP’s opening sequence, and from here on out APES lead listeners into uncharted territory. Beginning your debut record with three familiar tracks is an interesting choice, undoubtedly aimed at hooking in new listeners.
That being said, I’m no new listener, and the triple-dunk of Pull The Trigger, Filter and If You Want It served as a shining re-introduction to the sonics APES call their own. As the fourth track Tomb busted out its opening bars, I was excited to hear what was to come.
The latter half of Stranger Than Strangers is formidable beyond first impressions, APES finding their rhythm and dancing around it with a virtuoso’s grace. Upon their indie rock foundations they have crafted a near-perfect selection of delectable tunes. It seems the time it took for this debut to land was well-spent.
Fourth Point sees the band strut into heavier territory, guitarists Ben Dowd and James Toohey becoming extra friendly with the corners of their pedal boards concerned with fuzz, distortion and drive. A repeating vocal “ooh” sends the track home, you’ll want to sing and headbang along at once.
It paves the way for several similar tracks to come, more rock ‘n’ roll numbers like Strange Tastes, Dimension and Tired Face rearing their heads throughout the rest of Stranger Than Strangers.
Presumably, APES’ touring schedule has influenced their songwriting, showing an unprecedented favouritism for songs a live audience would lose their minds to. It’s a path many bands take in their debut years, the addictive adrenaline of performing onstage feeding into their output. For APES, it was an unexpected yet much appreciated move, their singalong tunes now sitting in intelligent juxtaposition with the ragged new cuts.
That being said, the snappy, melodic and sunny tunes APES were pumping out prior to this debut aren’t lost to the wayside. If that was the side of APES you dug the most, you’ll find a friend in new tracks Better, Get Into My Life and album closer It Is What It Is.
On Stranger Than Strangers APES have taken full flight, lifting their sound above any high point they may have reached previously. A cohesive songwriting unit which seems to never run dry of solid hooks and heavenly arrangements, the only way APES are going from here is up.
Stranger Than Strangers is out Friday May 19.
Fri 19 May – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Sat 20 May – 170 Russell, Melbourne – Under 18 Show
Sun 28 May – The Tote, Collingwood – SYN 1700 Fundraiser
Fri 9 June – The Wool Exchange, Geelong
Sat 10 June – The Village Green Hotel, Mulgrave
Sun 11 June – Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights