I’ve stayed away from the hype-machine surrounding The Strypes for a couple of months. Primarily because the few tracks I’d heard were excellent, I didn’t want to ruin it being swamped or influenced by all things Strypes from online presences, various magazine publications or any other outlet for that matter. I wanted to enjoy it without any outside sway so I’ve waited a while to give the full album a thorough listen and review.
The Irish 4-piece brought out Snapshot, their studio debut in September and drew comparisons to The Rolling Stones, The Libertines and almost everyone of merit in between. With a prestigious support slot touring with Arctic Monkeys it’s all good for The Strypes at the moment.
Opening track ‘Mystery Man’ bursts into a delightful swinging-sixties influenced sound. It’s full to the brim with energy, distorted guitars, bouncing bass lines and driving drums. What a sound for a band with an average age of just 17.
I’d heard ‘Blue Collar Jane’ played live a few times before and was particularly interested to hear the studio recording and I wasn’t disappointed. More of the same from the opening track, the guitar lines are slick and dirty, short, sharp bursts of lead riffs flying around, guitar dropping out to let bass and drums do their part, it’s a great listen and full of energy. The enthusiastic levels never really drop off from second to third track ‘What The People Don’t See’ with a great mouth harp intro more prominent than the tracks before; the song keeps that 60’s feel going but it’s dirtier than that iconic sound. More raw and recent.
The pace of this album so far has been monstrous – keeping the tracks under 3 minutes has brought a huge energy to the start of the album and it sounds like a live recording given how wild and quick everything has passed so far.
‘I Can Tell’ could have been an early Stones track with the vocal delivery and the muddy, filthy guitar work throughout, it’s got that vibe to it. For a band so young, as I’m sure it must have been mentioned before by other outlets, it’s remarkable to hear such a sound replicated to such a high standard. Tempo-changer ‘Angel Eyes’ shows a grittier, less-polished side of the band with a chunky Blues track. Toe-tapping, smokey bar, shots of Whisky; you get the imagery this track conjures. It’s well-placed to slow the album down some and at 4:11 in length it gives the band time to show off the different side to their sound.
Half-way through the original track listing (the version I have features 2 live tracks from the band’s King Tut’s shows) ‘Perfect Storm’ explodes back into that pace I mentioned earlier. Full on guitars, bass, drums, harmonicas and vocals it’s ferociously quick at just over two and a half minutes. Speaking of keeping it short and sweet ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover’ is even shorter at just 2:16 but length is just a number with this kind of quality – that’s almost the point I suppose, leaving you wanting more. Featuring some interesting vocals “I look like a farmer but, I’m a lover” it’s a fun, fast track that keeps the tempo burning.
‘What A Shame’ features a nice double-layered vocal track with the lower end almost speaking the lyrics underneath the sung delivery which creates a good effect. The guitar work again is brilliant and the lyrics and vocal delivery are excellent too. There’s barely time to catch a breath before ‘Hometown Girls’ bursts into life with an ode to the bands old stomping grounds. It’s more rock and less swinging 60’s which I enjoyed and the stuttered vocals raised a smile. Although slightly different to the rest of the tracks so far it’s still punchy, raw and exciting; no doubt a big hit when played live.
‘Heart Of The City’ is another track that deviates from the earlier feel of the album (perhaps a statement of intent for the ominous second album?) it’s more rock and roll. But I like it. Almost at the end of the album, ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin” opens with a Hendrix experience-inspired bass line and that harmonica sound from earlier bursting over the verses. The final third of the album has come as a surprise with its heavier rock approach but that may very well have been the intention of the band – to mix things up and keep your attention until the very end. Closing track ‘Beautiful Delilah’ signs off in a fine style. A big change for the last part of the album? A bit. But it worked really well.