Frontier Justice (Boutique Empire)
Sex With Strangers doesn’t take the matter of making an album lightly. The band’s debut, 2008’s The Modern Seduction, for example, was a concept record with a plot that read like a cross between 1984 and The Terminator, with a little bit of The Matrix tossed in for good measure. For its third long-player, the new Frontier Justice, SWS has come up with something that’s more like The Road Warrior combined with, well, everything that has ever ripped off The Road Warrior.
According to the liner notes, the whole thing takes place in a postapocalyptic world in which the Pacific Northwest has become the new frontier, a battleground for two opposing tribes of survivors. There might have been something in there about a Thunderdome, too, but whatever. You don’t really need all the details to enjoy the songs.
And enjoy them you will, provided your range of musical tastes starts circa 1979 and ends right around the time the Berlin Wall started coming down. Sex With Strangers is unabashedly new wave, something that’s obvious as soon as Frontier Justice kicks off with “Crimes of the Heart”, which boasts the disc’s best chorus. On it, frontman Hatch Benedict does his best Simon Le Bon over a death-disco groove and Gary Numan–esque synthesizer pads. The rest of the album follows suit. The back story might conjure images of bomb-blasted deserts and rusting reactors, but Sex With Strangers sounds more like neon lights reflected in polished chrome.