Through driving instrumentation and sweet melodies, Winston-Salem’s Estrangers presents a refined and occasionally tumultuous take on pop music on its debut album Black Ballroom. Although familiar, the band makes its sound personal with a swirl of whimsical layers.
Between the multiple layers of guitar and keyboard, the songs on Black Ballroom are engulfed in a cloud of infectious hazy pop. And with frontman Philip Pledger’s honest lyrics recalling hometowns, past relationships and memories, the album is easily accessible to listeners.
In many ways the sextet channels the same lo-fi pop made prominent by fellow North Carolinians The Love Language, but the band’s energy and experience is its own. Each song feels relatively personal and the band focuses on developing each layer without being too saccharine.
Dive verdict: 3 of 5 stars
Songs “Tell Her No Thanks” and “L’Avventura” are fast foot-stomping ditties that combine the best of Estrangers’ musical layers, through energetic drumming and chaotic keys. As Pledger’s vocals break through the menagerie of instruments, these bouncy songs develop as dynamic standouts.
Black Ballroom starts and fades quickly, clocking in at just under half an hour. Its brevity is refreshing, but its main drawback is the parallels it draws to its influences. It’s not that the album isn’t original, but that it lacks in developing its own breed of originality.