The press release that accompanies the latest release from Akron's the Strange Familiar states that this disc is all about enabling singer Kira Leyden to show off her "softer, pretty side." That's certainly the case with album opener "Gone," a wispy break-up ballad driven by a piano riff. The poppy "We All Fall Down" and the tender "Except to You" have similar sentiments. With its ominous-sounding percussion, "Painkiller" fares a bit better. And the bluesy, Adele-like "Surrender" really hits the mark. But too many of the songs settle for down-tempo melodies. Having cut its musical teeth by playing Northeast Ohio's small clubs, the Strange Familiar can rock much harder than this disc would suggest.
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