All Time Classic: Strung Out – Twisted by Design

Twisted by Design
More hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box

Released: 1998
Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Top Tracks: ‘Exhumation of Virginia Madison’, ‘Paperwalls’, ‘Ultimate Devotion’, ‘Tattoo’, ‘Matchbook’

There was a time when Strung Out were easily my favourite band. Their brand of new school punk rock sported catchy hooks with metal overtones topped off with silky smooth vocals and well-written lyrics which all added up to a winning formula.

When it comes to picking my favourite release of theirs it’s a toss-up between their sophomore album ‘Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues’ and the one that followed – ‘Twisted by Design’. While both are awesome pieces of sonic mastery I think that ultimately ‘Twisted by Design’ wins. I like my music with hooks and this album has more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box. The choruses are so catchy they’ll stick in your head for days.

While ‘Suburban…’ gave us a taste of Strung Out’s aggressive side with the classic ‘Bring out your Dead’, ‘Twisted…’ displays an even heavier side of the band with tracks ‘Reason to Believe’ and ‘Ice Burn’ delivering an excellent punk/hardcore/metal blend and hitting the mark every time. These aggressive interludes complement the poppier tracks superbly and make for an interesting multi-textured multi-faceted album that ensures the listener never gets bored.

What I like about Strung Out is that there’s a certain air of maturity to their music. You won’t find the slapstick goofy humour here that seemed to be the staple of a lot of 90s punk rock. And while I can certainly appreciate a well-placed joke as much as anyone, it’s a welcome change to find a band that displays a more “grown-up” side of punk rock. One that doesn’t incorporate lowbrow political incorrectness into their music just for the sake of trying to be “punk”.

Strung Out
Why so serious?

Not one dud track or dull moment on this highly catchy, highly sing-along-ish release makes Strung Out’s ‘Twisted by Design’ a definite all time classic.

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