Strange Bones – ‘England Screams’

By Andy Joice

Music is almost always an extension of personality. Bouncing, cheery pop punk, or angsty lo-fi sad boi acoustic vibes; it’s a mirror of feelings, not only for the bands but for the listener themselves. Not all of us can be poets, so we rely on the words and thoughts of those gifted enough to write relatable prose that sit in our chest, and live them outwardly. But much like moods, a band’s sound can be blurred, pulling different influences into something both unrecognisable and instantly familiar. We live in a world where blending genres is not only accepted but encouraged – which, for Blackpool four piece Strange Bones, works entirely in their favour.

Unlike anything you’ve heard before, Strange Bones balance a tightrope of thunderously heavy melodies and sub-bass electronics that are felt more than heard. Combine that with the poisonously spat vocals from Bobby Bentham and you’ve got a sound that’s somehow nostalgic and refreshing in equal measures. Debut LP ‘England Screams’ continues to meld approaches that incorporate big rhythms and punk attitude with dirty, electronic beats.

Opening with ‘Jungle’, you’re immediately hit with a synthetic beat before leading into a deliciously frenetic verse. Although the vocals are a little too low in the mix and end up being slightly drowned out, the chorus hits in an incredibly catchy way, reflecting the ability to get stuck in one’s own head – a feeling that’s all too common these days.

Title track ‘England Screams’ deftly plays with instrumental breaks, allowing the song room to breathe amongst the thunderous beats. In an album that plays with the theme of “trying to understand the relationship between order and chaos”, the mix of quieter moments and thick rhythms allow a full appreciation of order and chaos, as if the band might at any point overload the track, but know that at times, less is more. With such venomous vocal intensity, it’s clear Strange Bones aren’t here to fuck around. They’re aware of their political stance and are adamant you should hear it.

No strangers to the power of collaborations, ‘Dogma’ features PAV4N of Foreign Beggars in a track that’s as explosive as it is rapid. With Bob Vylan adding a verse to ‘Menace’, a brooding if not dark look at the ‘real’ England, it growls with a real-life poison that contemplates a grim reality. Adding the talent of PAV4N and Vylan adds a layer of notable legitimacy to the delivery, with both guests providing a hefty level of grit.

‘Snakepit’ is a little more refined, leaning more into a typically garage punk and culminating in a distortion laced, hard hitting party song. A catchy chorus pretty much guarantees this being a floor filler at gigs. ‘Sleepwalker’ follows a similar routine, focusing more on harmonies and vocal delivery over a dancy beat; littered with echoes and melodies, it’s a highlight that again proves less is more.

While there are a lot of high-speed, Prodigy-esque moments within this album, closer ‘Heavy’ takes a comparatively slower approach, focusing on a more fragile hook and delicate harmonies. Acting as a digestif, it calmly returns your feet to the ground after the dozen pounding tracks before it.

‘England Screams’ is an ambitious LP, with some tracks being scuzzy punk songs and others being electronic powerhouses. Although the mix is a little off – the instrumentation being higher in the mix than the vocals can make them difficult to interpret – each track has its own definitive flavour. The balance of synths and rhythm instruments is generally spot on, interplaying seamlessly, and it’s clear that Bentham is passionately political and striving for change from the delivery alone. Strange Bones have provided a snapshot of urban Britain and created the sort of album that would have the windows of a Fiat Punto shaking under the pressure of the sub-bass beats at maximum volume, and we’re fully onboard for that.


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