Strange Ranger plays Missoula Thu., Feb. 22. Check Facebook for details.
Strange Ranger has been compared to Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie, and that’s because the Portland-by-way-of-Bozeman band sounds like an era. It’s a shimmery, whispery, post-rock sound that captures what some people were listening to in the late 1990s, early 2000s. (Even if you weren’t trying to, it was unavoidable.) On Daymoon, Isaac Eiger’s falsetto evokes the high-pitched buzzing of insects on a hot summer afternoon. The sound shifts from being irritatingly precious to gut-wrenchingly angsty. There’s something to love and hate about each musical phrasing, because it’s so “indie rock,” the way the band almost acts as an emetic, inducing (even against your will) the raw feeling of a breakup. The more I listen, the more I like the smart emotional manipulation: The way “The Future” starts with simple plucking, then layers heavy bass lines and walls of synth and cymbals, before pulling back and starting its build-up again. “Hydration is Key,” begins like a French mystery starring Audrey Tautou and turns into something more foreboding (featuring melodica) that could have fit on the soundtrack of the stylized German television series, “Dark.” It’s the kind of music that makes me roll my eyes from all the drama — and then turn up the volume a little louder. I just want to hear more of those hooks and textures.