Manilla based The Strange Creatures have got to be the most endearing outfit in dreampop-land! Not only do they have the most adorable happy-pill sound but they are also really lovely people who are very supportive to other bands in the same niche.
The Strange Creatures are Jon Tamayo on guitar/vocals, Megumi Acorda on keyboards/vocals, Tobit Rubio on guitar, Tan Evangelista on guitar, Bam Butalid on bassguitar, and Ryan Rillorta on drums. Their first gig was played in 2013 and they began recording straight after. In 2014 they released the EP ” Stargazer” which was distributed by Dufflecoat Records. The band subsequently joined Philippine label Terno Recordings in 2015 and released 3 more singles.They very recently released their debut album, “Phantasms”.
The Strange Creatures say they draw their musical inspiration from bands such as The Beatles, The Radio Dept., Slowdive, Camera Obscura and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: quite a mouthful, but if we listen closely, we can find all kinds of influences in the tracks on Phantasms. They literally throw everything in that inspires them: tweepop, jangle, bubblegum pop and last but not least, dreampop. Now this could prove to be a pretty tricky feat: to maintain the balance within such a compound. But the mood is so buoyant, the rendition so charming, the composition so interesting and the production so solid, that they manage get away with it quite nicely.
There are some pretty strong tracks on “Phantasms” with song titles that take the term dreampop to the letter. Opener “Moonstruck” is definitely one of them: a piece of crystal clear pop with the vocals of starstruck lovers “gazing” at the firmament. “Palipad Hangin“, a ditty clearly inspired by the Pains of Being Pure At Heart” is sung in their native Filipino, revealing the splendour of Megumi‘s delightful voice over the synergy of the 3-guitar kaleidoscope and sunny-day harmonies. “I Feel Like I’m on Drugs” is a gorgeous janglepop track in the tradition of Hazel English/DayWave gone a bit trippy: think fastforward opening flowers, glitchy clouds and balmy boats on lakes.“Stargazer” is a “spark-e-ling” ballad that is suspended between childlike innocent twee-ness and swoony yearnings. The cherry on top of the album is, and remains the gorgeous “Dreamy Eyes”: the first track I ever heard by The Strange Creatures and the one that made me an instant fan. The track just kicks off and drops as us straight in dreamytale wonderland where we treated to angelic voices, scintillating jangle-guitars and celestial synths.
“Azure Sky”, “Ocean Child” and “Into Serenity” are the more contemplative moods on the album, drawn heavily from their Slowdive/Cocteau Twins source, and although they are fragile and pretty, I personally think this is not what to should be doing in future. Not only because it’s been done so many times before, but mainly because I think that their own, distinctive voice lies in the more poppy, more dynamic, above-mentioned highlights. But there’s plenty of time still, and hopefully many more songs to come! Put your faith in them for now and let these strange creatures drag you away from the grime and take you to their starry realm….