Strange Ranger announce their transcendent new album, Pure Music, out July 21st via Fire Talk, and present a captivating new single/video, “She’s On Fire.” Strange Ranger’s music occupies a space best described as uncanny; on Pure Music, the band indulges an obsession with Loveless, but they infiltrate any comparison to shoegaze with overtures to disco, house, and experimental pop. “She’s On Fire” is only a rock song until just after the midway point, when the drums throb, the snare skitters then snaps, and suddenly, you’re in a sweaty pit of swaying bodies dancing as Isaac Eiger (vocals, guitar) and Fiona Woodman (vocals, synth) harmonize, “I would have thought the rhythm of the club might lead me somewhere.” It’s one of the best songs in their discography, with an accompanying video that presents their vivid, cinematic aesthetic to match.
“When you’re young, it feels like life has a kind of arc to it and up ahead in the future, there’s some point where all your experiences converge and this fog of confusion will lift and you will have arrived,” says Eiger, speaking on the inspiration behind the band’s new single. “This is definitely not true and increasingly, music is the steadying hand I lean on when looking for meaning. It provides a spiritualism that feels absent from much of life and I want to be as close to that feeling as possible.”
Ever since Stranger Ranger hit the house show circuit many years ago, Eiger has returned to a Burial quote from one of his few recorded interviews: “Being on your own listening to headphones is not a million miles away from being in a club surrounded by people. Sometimes you get that feeling like a ghost touched your heart, like someone walks with you.” Though that Burial quote resonates, the songs that make up Pure Music have a pulse so strong they’re practically breathing; not touching your heart, but gripping it. Pure Music is easily the band’s most exciting and ambitious work to date.
Eiger, Woodman, Nathan Tucker and Fred Nixon recorded Pure Music at a cabin in upstate New York as a blizzard raged outside. The album elucidates the promise of No Light in Heaven, a mixtape that hinted the band was cocooned in a state of near total transformation. Pure Musicemerged from the same sessions, and while No Light in Heaven resembles, in places, bygone iterations of Strange Ranger’s sound, Pure Music was made with so little concern for what anyone might expect of them, as if they were a band without history. It’s an album that feels out of this time, one that lives in a dimension running parallel to ours.
It’s been four years since Strange Ranger released the spirited Remembering the Rockets, and in the interim period, the band surveyed a range of electronic production techniques, determined to integrate them on Pure Music. That effort is apparent from the outset; opening track “Rain So Hard” is scaffolded upon layers of oceanic synths, the trill of a marimba, and a mournful guitar part that mirrors the lyrical content. Written while Eiger and Woodman were in the process of breaking up, “Rain So Hard” captures the romantic loneliness of a late subway ride home. Despite the breakup, Pure Music is Stranger Ranger’s most collaborative effort to date. “With a few exceptions, I can’t tell whose production ideas were whose, when I listen back to it,” says Nixon. “We were literally trapped in this cabin, manically working at all hours, and the energy was crazy, in a fun way.”
Pure Music embodies that manic state through interstitial interludes laced with YouTube samples that connect each track to the next so as to submerge the listener in its world, one that rewards catharsis. “Music makes us transcend the feeling of being alienated from or trapped by the world,” Woodman says. “I want the experience of listening to Pure Music to be euphoric.”