The Strypes are back with ‘Spitting Image‘, and it’s a cracker full of rock riffs, infectious rhythms, catchy vocals; and if anyone can bring back the harmonica (did it even really leave?), it’s these guys.
The album opens with ‘Behind Closed Doors‘, and you can immediately tell how the band have progressed over the two years since 2015’s ‘Little Victories‘. The Strypes take influence from the late 70’s, and have a much less blues-y sound than we’ve heard from them before, favouring a style more similar to Elvis Costello and The Jam, especially on songs like ‘Consequence‘.
The addition of keyboards and an acoustic guitar to this album adds something new, it isn’t a carbon copy of ‘Little Victories‘, rather it takes all the best bits from that album, amplifies them, and adds a whole bunch of new talent to create a pretty perfect sounding album. Special mention to bassist Pete O’Hanlon and drummer Evan Walsh, as they’re credited for writing half the songs on the album.
Lyrically, this album strays from songs just about girls, and seems to feature a more mature take on love and complicated relationships in general, as well as how difficult life can be, and drugs (‘Easy Riding‘ is a favourite). All this, and strong anthemic choruses scattered throughout perfectly crafted songs creates a winning album. The Strypes also utilised guitarist Josh McClorey’s vocals, which works well because his voice is fantastic.
‘(I Need a Break From) Holidays‘ is a little heavier, and a sound we haven’t really heard from the band before, but one which does well to add some variety to the album, along with ‘Garden of Eden‘ which starts off a bit spooky (listen, and you’ll hear what I mean). But after the Scooby Doo intro, a sleazy riff kicks in, followed by the well-loved harmonica and Ross Farrelly’s eerie (in a good way) vocals, creating an incredibly atmospheric and generally enjoyable song.
The real highlight on this album comes in at track 6, ‘Great Expectations‘. It’s got a saxophone solo. It doesn’t get much better than saxophone solos. Catchy, summery, and somehow nostalgic; it’s everything you could possibly want.
‘Get It Over Quickly‘ sees The Strypes do what they do best: punchy drums under an infectious riff, funky bass, and quick vocals with another chorus that’ll have you wanting to get up and move; and ‘Turnin’ My Back‘, and ‘Black Shades Over Red Eyes‘, follow suit.
The penultimate song on the album, ‘Mama Give Me Order‘ is performed and was written by McClorey. It’s a soul-touching acoustic song, and a nice one to ease you into the closing track, ‘Oh Cruel World‘. This, again, is the band at their best, proving how far they’ve come since ‘Snapshot‘, and how much they have to offer – harmonica galore. You can’t fault it.
The Strypes really have produced their greatest work on ‘Spitting Image‘, there isn’t a single song which is less than fantastic, and this album will only see them grow.