Required Listening: The Struts

I’m allowed to love music, even if I’m epically hopeless at making it

Time To Read: 3 mins | November 21, 2016

I made a list of the 10 worst musicians in history:

This isn’t a word of a lie: I was one of less than 5 kids in my middle school not assigned an instrument. Per the school district’s rules, all 700+ seventh graders were required to take band or orchestra. During your first classes, after you tried out several instruments over the course of a few days, the adults chose which bit of musical technology you appeared best at & gave you at least two years instruction.

I was so crap at everything – including, somehow, the cymbals – that the instructors went out of their way to pay off the gym teachers, bribing them to keep me the hell out of their classrooms until I graduated. It was literally mandated by the state that I receive training, but these poor adults couldn’t bear the thought of listening to my hopeless struggle day after agonizing day, so they hid me away in PE, unbeknownst to the school’s administrators. Thus I was never given any musical instruction after the recorder.


Was a badass at dodgeball, though.

This was fine at the time. At lunch I could brag to my friends that, while they were learning how to blow sounds out of shiny metal tubes, I was running around in the gym pegging the younger kids that I, by scheduling necessity, was now in class with. At twelve years old, this is a good thing.

At twenty-nine, it’s much less good. To my eye, sheet music looks like cave drawings. I can neither sing nor play any note audible to humans, and I’m still not entirely sure what a key is. There is a gaping whole in my knowledge of the modern world, and, oddly, it’s about a subject I absolutely love.

I blast music nonstop. In the car, outside, everywhere. It doesn’t matter if I’m exercising or working or taking my morning poo, some ballad is playing in the background. I have multiple playlists for the shower — when my computer eventually dies, I expect the Genius bar folks to tell me it was due to accumulated bathroom steam.

I don’t know if there’s a record for consecutive played hours on Spotify, but if there is, I’m probably in the top 10. Maybe three times over.

And thus, courtesy of this combination of factors, I’m in a weird spot. I have no ability to describe music, but I write on a daily basis, and listen to music on a constant stream. I have playlists I adore, tailored for different moods and settings and situations, and they score my entire life. But when I go to share a hopefully interesting bit of that life on this site, I don’t acknowledge the background tracks, which inevitably affect my feelings and memories of a scene.


So I’m going start doing music posts. And if I’m going to do that, I have to start with The Struts.

It was nearly a year now when ‘Could Have Been Me’ came on randomly. I don’t remember where I was — odds are a bar — but it was immediately added to three separate playlists. The track was getting some radio play in the US, which the English band had, interestingly, never managed in their homeland.

But it wasn’t until months later when I caught another single. I admit it was probably ‘Kiss This’, but I’d like to post ex facto believe it was my current favorite ‘Where Did She Go’. I finally investigated the full album, and played it on repeat enough to piss off at least one female houseguest. “If you like these guys so much, date them!”

I’m not going to describe the music, because I won’t do it justice… but mix Queen with Aldous Snow and add three heavy dashes of fun, and you’ll get some idea of what you’re in for. ‘English glam rock’, I believe I described it as for the girl I dragged to their show.

And that’s why they’re first. The Struts are the last show I saw before leaving the US. I brought a date along who’d never heard a single song, and she immediately fell in love (she was far cooler than that other uncultured peasant).

You can’t not be smitten; lead singer Luke Spiller doesn’t have a shy bone in his body. He does multiple costume changes – and this was for a small bar in Dallas, 300 people tops – while flailing around like four separate rock spirits are each controlling one of his limbs. If you don’t enjoy watching these guys, have yourself checked out, you’re probably a dementor.

Their album is below. Listen now, dance later, thank me tomorrow:


photo: the struts. obviously. 

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.

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