Zhenya Strigalev/Federico Dannemann

The Change
(Rainy Days)

The Change follows in the footsteps of 2018’s Blues For Maggie. With a different rhythm section, it deepens the collaboration saxophonist Zhenya Strigalev has been entertaining with guitarist Federico Dannemann, who this time gets to share writing duties.

The goal is still to present music with a broad appeal, this time with a greater emphasis on funk. However, the tunes sound barer and more spontaneous, as some of the superfluous embellishments and effects have been shed. The sinuous and protean “Pulse” shows the band at its most effective and features some jittery saxophone and jagged guitar to spice things up. On the hypnotic Ethiopian-style “Boo,” Strigalev unveils his most wild and unbridled side. The band seems on a roll, delivering one uplifting melody after another, surfing on hard beats and moving forward with ease and gusto. Then, at midpoint, the whole affair takes a turn for the worse.

With “Speed Up,” Strigalev’s playing becomes formulaic, and the quartet’s crowd-pleasing tendencies become too obvious. The musicians seem to be running out of ideas, and the inclusion of an unnecessary drum solo underlines the issue. The band follows with the title-track—penned and sung by Dannemann—for a 180-degree change in mood. It’s not a bad rock ballad, far from it, but it feels out of place. As for “Total Silence,” the tune overstays its welcome, and the reggae detour is another questionable choice. Fortunately, the band pulls itself together and gets back on track with the closer, “Pank.” Relying on a powerful drive, it remedies the previous missteps, allowing the quartet to end on a high note.