I’ve been sitting on this album for over a year as I try to get the Journal into some kind of professional looking outfit worthy of placing an album like this on the pages. So here we are. Now I like to see a certain element of entertainment when I choose my musical interests. That’s why I like such varied musical tastes as Steam Powered Giraffe, Professor Elemental, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot. While they’re all very different in their musical styles, there’s no denying their ability to create characters from charming Victorian rap to depraved psychotic metal. Mr Strange are in a completely different league.
The Wonderful World of Weird is a 12 track album with a 13th bonus track which is a cover of Dr Steel’s We Decide.
The album opens with the title track that sounds like a cross between a carnival and a horror film soundtrack. Maybe a Carnival Grotesque. This hypothesis supports their character appearances as twisted circus performers and surreal pagan-esque Gods among others. They incorporate masks into their routines which are horrific visages reminiscent of mainstream acts such as Slipknot; but a lot better and infinitely darker.
The album rolls through tracks throwing you into banging romps of guitar and drums before settling down to ambient soundscapes and whispered words. The album is like a rollercoaster never giving you a second to fully settle or get worked up. This, of course, only adds stimulus to their persona of freakish circus occupants who want to make you feel awkward.
There are some poignant messages that I get from the album in one or two songs, such as Clockwork Man which seems to describe the futility of real life. Living in a mediocre world of routine, performing the same dreary tasks and when you do dream, no-one notices. It plucks at the human yearning to do better and be free from the bleak cycle of wake, work, sleep, repeat.
Despite it’s name, Antichrist seems to be about atheism – or more precisely the correlation of how people of faith see atheism and satanism. At least that’s how I see it, but Mr Strange lyrics are so complex, it’s easy to get a different experience of the message from the original intention or even what someone sitting next to you may experience.
Throughout, the album changes from banging stomper to quiet ballad but never loses it’s air of creepy disquiet. I like the final track Journey’s End. It’s an ethereal number with some simple spoken lyrics and a gorgeous piano melody that wouldn’t be out of place at the end of an fantasy adventure.
Mr Strange want to make you feel uncomfortable and they do it well, not just with the lyrics, but the way they cut from a crashing song such the title track, to a polar opposite gentle sound of Creating the World.
I enjoyed the uncomfortable feeling that the album gave me while listening to it. It wasn’t a feeling that makes you want to turn off the long player, because the music is well made. It’s features good programming and the band are clearly talented artists. The actual music and the emotion it draws is what made me feel uncomfortable, but in a similar way to when you go on a decent ghost train or watch an underground horror film.
Mr Strange will never be a mainstream band in the charts for a number of reasons and none of them bad. First of all, the music is so fanciful and outlandish it won’t be accepted by the larger public, secondly their appearance is too bizarre (yes Manson is equally as bizarre, but he created that character to make money, not because that’s who he is) and thirdly – which links to the second point – because they are true to themselves and won’t change themselves.
Mr Strange has been described as similar to Lady Gaga and while I can certainly see where that description comes from – most notably the weirdness of her videos, where Gaga always adds an element of high fashion to her look, Mr Strange opts for less high fashion and more serial killer.
The Wonderful World of Weird is a fantastic, peculiar, eccentric creepfest on your ears. The lyrics are splendid – even if they don’t always fit and have to be rushed (still it works for Steam Powered Giraffe) and although the production has that definite lo-fi live performance sound, it’s very well made.
For the price, it’s worth getting into their music because just like other artists in the steampunk arena, they have a select amount of music that’s available for free download. At £7.50 for this album, you can’t really go wrong though.