4 The Strange South Reviews: Thornback, Before the Drop, Concrete Angel, Dead Men Only Play The Blues
It's Friday y'all! And what better way to christen the weekend with some reviews? Today I'm covering some TSS scents I picked up in Sucreabeille's anniversary sale at the indie marketplace! As such there's a couple of scents in here that I wouldn't have picked up on my own, and one of 'em dazzled me and one was uh, not for me.
All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box. I did crack them open to sniff them directly after arrival, and with a couple to do an initial test. The reviews are not based off of these initial impressions - though if a rest did change the smell I’ll note that.
I’m doing a half-hour skin test with each perfume. They are always applied to skin that has either been washed or hasn’t had perfume on it that day. Sometimes I will run one scent on one wrist/hand/arm and the other on the other wrist/hand/arm. When I wash my hands for review purposes I wash with a scented soap (it’s all I have available - shea butter Dove soap or almond Doc Bronners). Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off), so theoretically there could be cross-contamination.
Each sample was gently swirled before application. Each review is written without looking at the notes (in that moment… I obviously looked at them when I bought). At the end of the review I will list what the notes listed in the shop are and comment on how I think they interacted
You can see my basic run down of TSS's 1ml bottles here [link].
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
In the bottle: Spicy, kind sour greenery. It’s not in that fresh cut grass family that gives me headaches though - more herbal. The sour note reminds me a touch of vinegar. Honestly it’s like sniffing an herbal salad with a balsamic dressing.
Wet on my skin: Sweet salad - like a salad with a bit of morning dew on it. The spicy smell is coming out more in this. It actually smells like eating a salad with balsamic based dressing out in the middle of the forest. A little cold and resinous (I think I recall this having amber in it?)
Drydown: Sweet delicate floral coming forward. It’s starting to take on that green smell that gives me headaches in addition to the herbal greenness. This smells like forest underbrush with a bit of that balsamic tang and a lil bit of resinous.
After 30 mins: Similar to the drydown but some of the brightness to it is gone. It’s also gotten fainter - still something there. It kinda reminds me of what an herbaceous cubumber with balsamic vinegar would smell like. Little bit of a light floral at the edges.
Notes on the site: Black locust, white tea, guaiacwood, and amber.
So I think the black locust is the floral. White tea is part of the greenery so let me be clear that this is a super fresh smelling tea (I think that’s also where some of the sour-vinegar smell is coming from for me). There’s a tiny touch of resinouness that I think it the amber. I have no idea what guaiacwood is (google lets me know it is apparently another name for palo santo) so I figure that was the herbal green I smelled at first.
Verdict: Swap. Got this one as part of that aforementioned pre-made sample pack - I honestly wouldn’t have picked it up on its own given my history with very green/fresh-cut-grass style scents. If you’re really into green stuff and like sniffing salads this would probably be right up your alley.
Before the Drop
In the bottle: Peppermint, moisture, a sweet heady scent - reminds me both of a floral and of sugar. Sugared violets perhaps?
Wet on my skin: Oh yeah, there’s violet in there. The almost chocolate like violet - very similar to what’s in Darling but I’m getting something sugar in there. I feel like there’s another floral as well (reminds me of an ultra delicate tea rose) and maybe a gourmand. Like, it smells kind of marshmallow-y to me but I remember the marshmallow fluff note in Darling didn’t smell like this. There’s also peppermint but its at the edges. It’s really interesting - like a gourmand take on a storm rolling in.
Drydown: Moisture/humidity, sugared violets, gourmand note that reminds me of marshmallow… touch of what feels like another floral. Mint is basically a subtle edge note at this point. I feel like I might be getting like the itsiest, bitsiet bit of earthiness but that might be part of the gourmand (I’m getting real close to sniff it, like nose pressed on skin close). The tiniest bit powdery at the edges… but the powder balances will with the rest of the scent.
After 30 mins: Soft foody sweetness, an edge of peppermint, moisture/humidity, violets, a little touch of powderiness.
Notes on the site: Peppermint, green tea, marshmallow, heather, violet, and evening rain
Ah-ha! THERE IS MARSHMALLOW. But yes, I get the peppermint, I get the green tea (it’s part of what I was like ‘maybe a gourmand’ about. This is not an astringent green tea - this is like, a very soft mellow green tea that mostly just adds a bit of broad, pale gold, itsy bitsy bit earthy base to the scent), the heather must be that other floral I was getting. And yes, there’s violets and rain.
Verdict: A very nice gourmand with atmospheric nuances. I ended up full sizing (It's such a nice, calming scent). Also, dang this would make a great skin lotion. Like this would be the most soothing thing to rub on your hands or face or even feet after a long hot summer day. This was the big surprise of the sample pack for me.
In the bottle: Lemony white florals (smells like white florals should - either a magnolia or an ylang. It smells more ylang to me nose), wet stone/concrete, a dark green (like a moss), and a hint of dirt.
Wet on my skin: White floral forward (still smells like an ylang to me though it could be a magnolia) - there’s almost something evergreen in there blending with the white floral (like it reminds me of gin). Along with the darker green there is a brighter green that is verging on that fresh-cut-grass headache territory for me, edge of dirt and wet concrete.
Drydown: This white floral is still really nice - with the green though it edges towards ‘clean’ in smell. I prefer my white florals more ‘honeyed and beguiling’. Still an edge of wet concrete and dirt. The green is not overpowering but it is there. Very faint hint of what was reminding me of an evergreen or gin.
After 30 mins: Wearing much fainter - the white florals are taking on more honeyed nuances. Like, that’s the big takeaway from this for me - TSS does have a nice white floral of some sort. Pretty much all of the green is gone and I’m not getting much of the wet concrete (like, some very faint edges of it). I am getting that little touch of dirt.
Notes on the site: Cypress, magnolia, water lily, potted fern, tulip, warm red dirt, and damp headstones
Okay, let us break this dowwwwn. The Cypress must be what was reminding me of an evergreen or gin. The magnolia is the white floral. The potted fern is the green note.Once the word is in front of me I can see an edge of tulip blending with the magnolia adding some sweetness to it. Got the dirt - though it didn’t flag me as red or warm, and yup, got the damp headstones. Didn’t really get any waterlily. Maybe that’s what was smelling more ‘clean’ to me?
Verdict: Swap. Not for me. I do like that magnolia note but how faint the whole wears after half an hour combined with the fern note (even if green notes don’t give me a headache I very rarely am into them). This is one of the better balanced perfumes I’ve tried from TSS though (I can see why people who are into this scent profile rave about it).
Dead Men Only Play The Blues
In the bottle: Menthol, tobacco, coconut (upon a sniff I recall some version of these are definitely in the official notes), some sort of spice - like cinnamon. Something that reminds me of chocolate and perhaps a faint dirt note.
Wet on my skin: In terms of the scent profile it is very stable from how it is in the bottle. The coconut is very creamy. The spices take it to an almost resinous place - at its core it has this contrast between creamy coconut and a resinous, spicy golden-brown scent (maybe some brown sugar in there?). It’s wreathed softly by menthol. In terms of strength it’s like my skin is just devouring this. I hope I’m just going kinda anosmic to it.
Drydown: Well, initially I was going anosmic to it - a good huff of my shirt and I could smell it again - but now it’s actually wearing more faintly. I’m getting less of that menthol, coconut, brown sugar (?) and spices while the tobacco is remaining forward.
After 30 mins: Very faintly sweetly golden brown. It’s faded a lot. I think I might detect a hint of vanilla at this point though.
Notes on the site: Menthol cigarettes, sassafras, brown sugar and coconut husk, tuberose and honeysuckle, vanilla, teak wood, and sandalwood.
Well, got the menthol cigarettes. The Sassafras must have been the ‘spice’ I smelled. Definitely got the brown sugar and some of the coconut - though the coconut is more ‘creamy’ than ‘husk’. It took me the whole 30 minutes to realize there was vanilla in there. I think the wood is what i was reading as ‘resinous’ though I couldn’t tell there were two.
I got basically nothing distinctly floral at any stage of this. Like sniffing it in the bottle there might be a teeny tiny edge of honeysuckle, but that was gone quickly.
Verdict: Y’all I love this one in the bottle and wet. It smells like a Twilight Zone character who turns out to be the devil or something. You can practically feel the 1950s suit. It’s slightly (but not overwhelmingly masculine) which is firmly my bag. But with how fast it faded I’m not going to be upsizing this (at least in perfume form - I could see grabbing a lotion of it one day). Will be keeping my sample to see if some other use for it has better longevity.