Track Review: Strange Tides: Black Skies

‘Perfectly reflecting the passion of a summer romance, it’s a breathtaking release.’

After the release of their debut single ‘Criminal’ (2020), alternative folk-rock duo Strange Tides are back with breathtaking new single ‘Black Skies.’ Despite the single’s somewhat dark title, the song carries a blend of light-hearted musicality and very emotionally driven power. Fitting for a song about a summer relationship in two halves, it truly captures the mystique, the raw burning passions, and the intense yet fleeting nature of a summer romance.

Highlighting this, recurring chorus lines, ‘I wonder if the black skies and feathers are all a sign, maybe it’s my eyes looking for the things they like’, to me reflects how people often have a desire for things that are fleeting or cannot be obtained. The imagery of death in the feather, and those ‘Black Skies’ being something to be desired. 

Both bringing beautifully haunting vocals, Kristen and Victoria collectively draw you in deeper to this tale of a summer’s romance. Pulling you gently, the angelically soft style gives the song a hazy, dream-like quality a kin to how someone would feel when reminiscing on a fond memory. Contrastingly, as the song picks up pace, so does the understated passion of the vocals.

Growing in a way that really allows you to understand and feel those aforementioned emotions it’s as appropriate as can be. However, among the many aspects that there are to love within this new release, it’s how the build-ups within the instrumental elements occur that struck me the most.

Changing with the lyrical developments in each verse, the ever-increasing intensity ultimately results in a dramatic culmination of ideas. Like an explosion of pure passion and joy it overwhelms to the right level, before being fading into a gentle, more melancholic ending. Truly enhancing the storytelling, this quieter end to the song perfectly allows the listener to fully take in the pure ecstasy of energy that they experienced in the midpoint climax, while reminding us that like summer itself, the happy peaceful times of sunshine will always come back around again. 

Whether you’re experiencing the calmer moments or the more dominating ones, the enthusiasm and passion that Strange Tides have for making music really shines through in ‘Black Skies’. Just as evident though is how their conscious decision to explore new instruments, new textures, and new influences combines just as successfully here as in their debut release. 

“The track began with Kirsten messing around on a micro guitar and grew into the sound it is today when Victoria fleshed out a chorus and bridge,’ says the duo, ‘Our debut is sonically more in line with Victoria’s grittier tastes, so we wanted Kirsten’s preference for quirky melodies and unusual instruments to shine. We’ve got a falsetto bass line in the intro and a baritone guitar, so the song is strangely empty in the mid-range. Kirsten also pushed Victoria – in a good way – to write a piano part for the track, which our producer Dan Ponich tweaked into something that sounds like the gentle rain the lyrics talk about.’

From the melodic content, to the instrumental, to the lyricism, it’s clear this new release has been crafted with love and care. Furthermore, in transporting us into the fiery midst of a summer’s love, regardless of if you have experienced this ecstasy for real or just romanticised the idea of it, ‘Black Skies’ is a track that deserves a place in your summer playlist.

Track Review Feature by Alice Peoples

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