Strange Ranger is a Montana, now Portland, Oregon based lo-fi and alternative indie-rock band formerly known as Sioux Falls. As Sioux Falls, the band released a single project, Rot Forever, which earned the band acclaim and recognition. Now with their debut under the name Strange Ranger, the band releases Daymoon, a softer, more focused, stripped back, and at times, an awkward mess of an album.
Daymoon is shy, reserved, and when the band members play to their true colors, they do so with varying levels of success. The first single dropped leading up to Daymoon, “House Show”, is probably the most energetic track on the album, due to lively guitars and a grumbling, conventional instrumental punching away. Soft vocals weaken the track, a sadly common aspect to Daymoon. Isaac Eiger’s vocals are angel-soft on the opener, “Glow”, a much gloomier track than the title would imply, but is backed up by light electric strings, a heavy, one note bass, and crashing drums that mix in less than stealthily. Frantic vocals on “Why Didn’t You” spike back and forth under a meandering, slow paced instrumental. Conversely, softer, breathier vocals and bright guitars make “The Future” stand out as a really warm and enjoyable song on the album. The song “Warm” itself, is composed, and laces in light and wispy vocals before coming to a sudden end, something that happens again on “Hydration Is Key”, which stands out with it’s low, dreadful lyrics under a soothing harmonica. The band is much more in your face on “Everything All at Once”, but still come off as conservative, and have a hard time forming any sort of solid hook in their music.
There are a couple of quick, minute long tracks mixed into the fifteen song, forty-four minute album. “Subaru” is the first hint at just how loose and out of the box Eiger’s vocals can get, but fall short of spectacular as they wrench away aimlessly while the instrumental emotionlessly drones in the background. Like the other interlude track, “Doggies”, which consists of little besides pianos and textured sound effects, is not very effective in the grand scheme of Daymoon. Isaac sounds like he’s trying as hard as possible to sound quiet on “Everything Is Happening”, and has greater success on other tracks where his quiet vocals come a bit more naturally. The “Outerlude from Daymoon” feels like an unnecessary closing track, and harbors vocals that reach a laughably bad point before the song just fades out. On “Seesaw”, the awkward vocals we seem to get often enough finally reach a point where they feel so off-pitch that they end up forming a clumsy melody, and actually comes together to sound surprisingly nice.
With a proven ability to make good music, Strange Ranger seem to have hit a sophomore slump on Daymoon, an album that often presents itself as awkward and off-key, and only rarely does its weirdness strike a chord of intrigue. Strange Ranger come off as ambitious and emotional, but are spotty and fall flat on the execution. With Daymoon, Strange Ranger, fka Sioux Falls reinvent themselves in a most passable manner and unfortunately the band sees some of their best moments on Daymoon when they work within convention. Strange Ranger most of the time come off as focused, but not quite developed enough, and must find more effective ways of making their characters shine through the music, like on their noisier, more charismatic, Rot Forever.