The Alarm: Strength (1985)

These guys from Wales seemed to walk the line between indie respectability and commercial appeal back in my college radio days, not quite crossing over, but a little too slick to fit in with the cooler emerging indie acts. Personally, they never quite won me over, and I didn't spend much time with their records, though I found playing a stray song here and there on my radio shows would help break up my more US-centric inclinations at the time (primarily R.E.M., Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Feelies, etc.), providing an alternate UK act when I'd already plowed through the usual Cure and New Order and Smiths selections.

Still, I remember liking Strength (their second full-length) when it came out. Yeah, as a cousin to early U2, full of ready-made fist-pumping anthems, it was a bit too on the nose, but it was energetic and entertaining and had a few great tunes that I loved to slot into my radio show. "Deeside" was my favorite back then, probably because it sounded like they were ripping off the Replacements (save for the anthemic "Fire Fire Fire!" shout-out). The title track that opens the album is pretty great (sure, totally going all-in on the U2, but whatever). "Absolute Reality" had a nice pop flourish that called to mind the Jam, always a good thing.

Anyway, pulled it out recently and it brought a nostalgic smile to my face.

Here's "Deeside" played live:

Here's the video for "Strength":


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