Team Stray - Gender Studies (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Team Stray

Gender Studies (2008)

Cold Feet

Team Stray broke up earlier this year, and hardly anyone seemed to notice -- and I include myself in that number. The Org's news archive shows a whopping six news stories that mention the band, and not one mentions that the group disbanded.

It's a shame, too, because Gender Studies is a disc that deserves to be heard.

Team Stray are usually lumped in with Cold Feet labelmates the Dopamines or the Steinways, or other bands in the so-called Ramonescore movement, but it's a poor comparison. Yes, they have a definite Ramones influence, and are definitely a pop-punk band, but there's also a lot of '90s alt-rock influence in here. Furthermore, Gender Studies is far more of a power-pop record than most buzz pop discs, and a damn good one at that. It brings to mind Blue Album-era Weezer at times with its varied tempos and slick melodies. It's kind of refreshing, actually, to hear a power-pop/punk band that's not afraid to slow things down (like on the excellent "Small Talk"), and with such carefree vocal delivery.

That's not to say that the album doesn't bring the rock. "Mezzanine" has a fast pop-punk tempo and features some great female guest vocals (sadly, I bought the album digitally and am unaware as to who provided them). "Mary Hartman" is another great upbeat track, with clever lyrics to boot: "First of all, she was wearing the wrong glasses. Like me, they were much too square for her. I couldn't even imagine our life together. Maybe start with a drinking problem, and end with a blur."

Team Stray were not reinventing the wheel -- not by any stretch. But Gender Studies is one of the catchiest discs I've heard in ages, and one that I'm still listening to regularly after first buying it last year. It's a shame that Team Stray were not more appreciated while they were around, but that's no reason to continue to miss out on this collection of great pop songs.