It’s already difficult to Google a band called, The Virgins, but for the last three years, it’s been nearly impossible. After their 2008 hair-flip hit, “Rich Girls” their rise and fall from fame mirrored the career of a child star. A group that I once heard described at All Points West as “the band everyone will be talking about,” is now virtually unknown. Five years and three new bandmates later, Donald Cumming’s long-unanticipated sophomore release has finally surfaced and, to add shock to apathy, it sounds pretty good.
Although the group’s first self-titled The Virgins was a bratty, off-the-cuff, pop-funk album like a stripped down Strokes (which is fitting, as this is the first release on Casablancas’ Cult Records) Strike Gently enters a whole ‘nother genre. Bright electro New Wave guitar and a twangy drawl loosely following the melody in the vein of the Cars and Dire Straits. “Prima Materia” eases you into the album with a shrug of the shoulders and two step-up guitar chords. Things warm up with “Wheel of Fortune,” a dancy song about being young and the future nostalgia that comes with it. From there it drifts off into lesser numbers, all playing with the same sense of intimacy and heat.
Strike Gently does exactly that. There’s nothing pushy or bombastic about this record. It doesn’t make you want to post it on your friends’ walls or highly anticipate a new remix. It’s the kind of album that slowly melts into your subconscious after repeated hits on shuffle. It gains your trust during road trips and spring-cleaning. This is not the album of the year, but it’s a smart move (that’s lost on some people). The Virgins aren’t selling themselves as a buzz band; they’re getting intimate. Strike Gently is solid, and suddenly, I want to talk about them.